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Hysterectomy, Ovarian Failure, and Depression

Khastgir Gautam MD FRCS MRCOG; Studd, John DSc, MD, FRCOG
Menopause: 1998

The incidence of depressed mood is high in women before hysterectomy. This finding is usually the effect of prolonged heavy periods, chronic pelvic pain, and severe premenstrual syndrome that warrant the surgical treatment. The therapeutic effects of hysterectomy thus include both the cure of physical symptoms and improvement of mood. However, in women with preexisting psychiatric illness or predisposing personality problems, depressed mood may persist or occur with the stress of hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is commonly performed in the perimenopausal age but also results in a premature ovarian failure. Thus, ovarian hormone deficiency following hysterectomy may be responsible for the negative effect on mood. The cyclical nature of such hormone-related depressed states often remains unrecognized in the absence of menstruation; without routine endocrinologic monitoring the need for estrogen replacement following hysterectomy is often missed. Associated bilateral oophorectomy results in the depletion of endogenous androgens, which also has a significant effect on mood. Estrogen plus testosterone replacement following hysterectomy with or without bilateral oophorectomy has been shown to reduce the incidence of depressed state. The compliance with hormone replacement following hysterectomy is high in the absence of withdrawal bleeding and the depressant effect of progestins on mood. Therefore, a practice of regular endocrinologic monitoring following hysterectomy to detect the need for estrogen replacement and a near-routine replacement of combined estrogen and testosterone following bilateral oophorectomy should be adopted to reduce the incidence of posthysterectomy depression. (Menopause 1998;5:113–122. ® 1998, The North American Menopause Society.)

©1998The North American Menopause Society