How Pre-Menopausal Ovary Removal Could Lead To A Major Problem Later In Life

No one wants to have their ovaries removed, but it can often help alleviate pain and disease. Having your ovaries removed is known as an oophorectomy, and it's sometimes done as part of a full hysterectomy, but it can also be performed for other reasons (via Mayo Clinic).

Some conditions that typically warrant ovary removal include ovarian cancer, endometriosis, benign ovarian tumors or cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian abscess, or ovarian torsion (via WebMD). In certain cases, there is a high incidence of cancer in the family if you have BRCA gene mutations and that puts you more at risk for ovarian and breast cancer. For this reason, people opt to have surgery with the chance of reducing the risk.

The decision to remove your ovaries is a big one and comes with the typical risks and potential complications that any major surgery has. However, new research says that removing your ovaries before menopause may lead to contracting a brain disease.

Removing your ovaries before menopause may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease

A new study in Obstetrics and Gynecology finds that women who had both of their ovaries removed before the age of 43 had five times the risk of getting Parkinson's disease when compared to women of the same age who kept their ovaries. Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting dopamine-producing neurons in the brain.

The research followed nearly 5,500 women in Minnesota from 1950 to 2007. Half of the group had their ovaries removed and the other half had their ovaries intact. Researchers found 32 cases of Parkinson's in those who had both ovaries removed and 21 cases in the group that still had ovaries. They also tracked incidences of parkinsonism, a group of brain conditions marked by slow movements, stiffness, and tremors (via Parkinson's Foundation), and found 50 cases in the group with no varies versus 32 cases in the control group. In women older than 43, there was no link.

Lead researcher Dr. Walter Rocca believes estrogen protects against brain changes and advises that women explore all avenues before having their ovaries removed before menopause.

"Removing the ovaries to prevent the disease is not justified," says Rocca (via U.S. News & World Report). "We recommend a thorough discussion of risks and benefits and we caution folks that each case should be handled by considering all factors that may impact multiple clinical outcomes."