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Is it any wonder women are confused about ovary conservation at hysterectomy?

I’ve just read a research report that suggests that all women should consider having their ovaries removed when they have a hysterectomy because “women who had their ovaries taken out had lower rates of ovarian cancer and were not more likely to get heart disease or a hip fracture – which had been a worry in this group because of the quick drop in hormones that happens once the ovaries are gone.” The self same report goes on to do a comparison with an earlier piece of research which “found that women who had their ovaries removed were more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease and die than women who didn’t.”This sort of research conflict happens for many reasons, not all of them ‘benign’ and is responsible for the vast amount of confusion for both women and their gynaecologists about what the right course of action is over many parts of the decision making process that surrounds hysterectomy.

In this particular case it seems that the second study included women who were younger than in the first and they also followed them for a longer period of time, which means that although the headlines will read similarly, anyone reading just one of the articles will find that they are reading something out of context.

Other factors that play a significant role in research conflict can include things like advances in medical knowledge and understanding, who is paying for the research to be undertaken, the specialisms of the team involved as well as a whole host of environmental and other health factors that impact on the participants themselves.

It all goes to show that you cannot believe the findings in a single study, they need to be considered in relation to other studies conducted and in accordance with your own risk factors for each element of ‘risk’.

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational coach and founder of the Hysterectomy Association. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in the adoption and engagement of digital technologies. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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