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What Ovarian Hormones Do for You

From the Pre-Op Hysterectomy Articles List

Ovarian hormones and what they do for youAre the ovaries really important? Why shouldn't I have them removed when I have my hysterectomy?


If you are having a hysterectomy, you may also be thinking about having your ovaries removed, an oophorectomy. Before you make that decision, there are several things you should consider.

The ovaries produce estrogen and other hormones that are critical for overall health. Without your ovaries, the parts of your body that rely on those hormones can suffer, leading to health concerns and quality of life issues. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help to a degree, but it's not perfect and it doesn't work for everyone.

Here are some of the ways hormones affects your body, from head-to-toe. This is not a definitive list as there are also personal factors and medical history that come into play. If you do choose to have your ovaries removed, talk to your doctor about whether HRT is right for you.

Head:

Estrogen is beneficial for brain function. Without enough estrogen, you can experience brain fog and be at higher risk for dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's. Hair loss and other hair changes also seem to be linked to decreasing estrogen levels.

Eyes:

Low levels of estrogen are linked to age-related macular degeneration, a disorder in which the center of your visual field physically breaks down. You may also experience dry eyes which can be uncomfortable and make it impossible to wear contacts. Your risk for cataracts also increases.

Mouth:

Lack of hormones can affect your mouth in a number of ways. You can experience dry mouth, oral discomfort, receding gums, osteoporosis in your jaw and teeth, gum disease and injury, and other periodontal concerns.

Heart:

Menopause, especially early menopause, increases your risk for heart disease. Estrogen helps your heart in several ways. It helps keep blood vessels flexible which helps with blood pressure control. When estrogen levels are low, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides increase, upping your risk for heart disease. Mood swings, anxiety, and depression can all result from decreased estrogen, increasing your risk for heart disease. Progesterone can also affect moods as it can be the calming hormone and testosterone enhances moods, so those hormones can indirectly affect your heart, too, by contributing to decreased happiness.

Bones:

Diminished estrogen levels allow calcium to be leached from your bones and not be replaced, letting your bones become lighter and more fragile. Weakened bones can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk for fractures.

Urinary health:

As it does with the vaginal tissues, estrogen keeps the urinary tract and muscles supple and healthy. Women with low levels of estrogen are more likely to experience urge incontinence and frequent urinary tract infections. In extreme cases, bladder support musculature weakens as well.

Vaginal atrophy:

With the loss of estrogen, vaginal tissues thin and lose elasticity. This can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections, sex can become painful, and even washing with mild soap can become too irritating to labia and the vaginal entrance. You may also experience extreme itching if you develop vaginal atrophy.

Skin:

Without enough estrogen, you skin thins, becomes less elastic, and loses it's plumpness which can cause wrinkles. It can become dry and itching.

If you have your ovaries removed, you can also experience hot flashes, night sweats, body aches, insomnia, and other common menopause symptoms which can contribute to health and quality of life issues. The earlier you enter menopause, the more extreme symptoms may be.


This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

07-30-2000 - 12:10 PM


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