Women with traumatic pasts more likely to have ovaries removed, Mayo study finds

Women exposed to abuse are more likely to have their ovaries removed before age 46 for reasons unrelated to ovarian cancer, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.

Previous research has linked the removal of both ovaries in premenopausal women to a multitude of health issues, including depression, cardiac arrhythmias and arthritis, among others.

For the most recent study, researchers from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic analyzed the medical records of 128 bilateral oophorectomy patients without ovarian cancer under the age of 46. These records were compared to information from a control group of women who did not receive the procedure.

Analysis revealed women who reported having experienced physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse at any time prior to surgery were approximately 62 percent more likely to have their ovaries removed than women who had not experienced these traumas.

"Our current findings suggest that physical, emotional or sexual abuse predisposes women to seek medical attention for multiple gynecological symptoms, such as abdominal pain or excessive bleeding," said lead author Liliana Gazzuola Rocca, MD, a Mayo Clinic health sciences researcher and psychiatrist. "Unfortunately, in most cases, these early life experiences are inaccessible to the women because of psychological mechanisms, and the gynecologists may not be aware of the important connection between early life experiences and the present symptoms. This inability to recognize and openly discuss the past history of abuse may lead to unnecessary and harmful surgeries."

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