A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, sometimes including the ovaries, cervix and fallopian tubes. However, Dr William Parker, professor of the UCLA School of Medicine and author of several books, including A Gynecologist’s Second Opinion, believes that a woman should keep her ovaries whenever possible, referring to numerous studies showing that removing them actually increases the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia. “Half of all hysterectomies involve removing the ovaries,” says Dr Parker, “even when there is no cancer involved. We now know that after menopause, the ovaries continue to secrete hormones that help keep bones strong and hearts healthy. Studies suggest that removing the ovaries may do more harm than good.”
Studies have also shown that the removal of the uterus is associated with a three times greater incidence of heart disease. This is because the hormone prostacyclin, which is produced by the uterus, is a major contributor in reducing the risk of heart disease among women. The researchers warn that doctors must be aware that removing the uterus will almost certainly put a woman at risk of having a heart attack. Prostacyclin protects the heart by acting as an effective vasodilator. In other words, without it, your blood vessels don’t expand as they should and constriction and blockages may occur, causing a heart attack.
Undergoing a hysterectomy eliminates the source of hormones such as testosterone and androstenedione, which convert to estrogen in your body. This effectively stimulates surgical menopause, which, even with hormone replacement therapy, is a much rougher ride than natural menopause. Fortunately, there are natural ways to prevent, or delay, the need for a hysterectomy if you feel you are still far too young.
PROTOCOL TO PREVENT THE NEED FOR A HYSTERECTOMY
• Avoid taking estrogen-only contraceptives
• If using contraceptives, take micronised progesterone during the second half of your cycle
• Have an annual gynae check-up, including a pap smear and endometrial sonar
• Exercise regularly
• Follow a healthy diet, high in olive oil, fruit, vegetables, legumes and unrefined cereals; moderate in consumption of dairy products; and low in red meat
• Avoid becoming overweight
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