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Cancer: Cervical & Ovarian Message Board

Cancer: Cervical & Ovarian Board Index

I wouldn't really call the surgical fall-out "complications" as many of the symptoms are medically documented after-effects of ovary removal and/or hysterectomy. You can find the studies in Pubmed by doing a search for "pubmed oophorectomy long-term health effects." And there are also studies about increased risks of hysterectomy with ovary preservation (bladder, bowel and vagina displacement and dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, thyroid and renal cell cancer, and ovarian failure and all of its risks and reduced quality of life).

I aged horrifically fast after surgery. By 4 months post-op, I had lost over half my hair, developed gray streaks, lost a lot of skin collagen and subcutaneous fat, muscle mass, and my vision became blurry. My emotional state made me almost non-functional - severe depression, anxiety, irritability (all completely new to me). Even with HRT, I woke up every 2 to 3 hours burning up and could not fall back asleep. My memory was so bad, it was scary. And I couldn't even think straight. I felt like a complete idiot sometimes in front of my family and coworkers. I kept thinking I could not hold onto my job for much longer. I connected with one woman who had a critical IT job and she had to quit work because she was making so many mistakes after her hysterectomy. Thankfully, I was not in a high profile job and my boss had a lot of respect for me so I was able to hold on (by the skin of my teeth). I have had bowel problems ever since surgery and I lost my sexuality (absolutely no desire and response is a disappointment). And I absolutely ABHOR the post-hysterectomy figure and the resulting back, hip, and rib cage pain is devastating too.

I wish I had understood the gross overuse of female organ removal and how removal even after menopause can be just as debilitating. If I had, I would have done things very differently. For one, I would have fled the office of my gyn of 20 years when I questioned some of his statements. And secondly, I would have altered the surgical consent form to clearly state what could and could not be removed and under what circumstances. Too many women have organs needlessly removed. 76% of hysterectomies do not meet ACOG criteria and in some areas 73% of women lose healthy ovary(ies) at the time of hysterectomy. Our organs work together and have lifelong functions so please do your research and protect yourself. The ovaries of intact women produce hormones into their 80's so surgical "menopause" is MUCH different from natural menopause.

Of course, if the frozen section of an ovarian cyst shows cancer, then organ(s) will likely need to be removed. Or if you have a strong predisposition for ovarian cancer, you may choose to accept the trade-offs of ovary removal (maybe not uterus though) for peace of mind. But keep in mind that absent a predisposition, a woman's lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is less than 2% (U.S. government statistics say 1.3%).

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