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Surgical Menopause (Removal of Ovaries) May Increase Your Risk of Stroke & Alzheimer’s Disease

By NBH, Ph.D., Diplomate of Anti-Aging Medicine,
Advanced Fellow of Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine

Were Your Ovaries Surgically Removed Before Menopause?

We see many ladies in our clinics who, at a young age, have had their ovaries removed when they were undergoing a hysterectomy or at later date after their hysterectomy. This is called “Surgical Menopause.” *The immediate consequences are like what happens in menopause but MUCH MORE SUDDENLY.

*Their body IMMEDIATELY ceases production of estrogen from the ovaries (or produces small amounts from other sources). The removal of the ovaries also affects the production of progesterone and commonly testosterone and DHEA. It means that the female body, like in menopause, is no longer producing primary, protective hormones.

*The ovaries are the main source of estrogen, progesterone, and androgens in the body. Surgical menopause precipitates a sudden drop in the levels of these hormones. Although symptoms can vary in women, that can include any of the following:

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness
  • palpitations
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • changes in sexual desire.

Women with surgical menopause (as with natural menopause) are also at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s Disease.

Heart Attack at 35 Years of Age

R.J., a client of ours, was 25 years of age when she had her uterus and both ovaries removed. She came to see us at Natural Bio Health after suffering a heart attack at age 35. She appeared much older than her age. Her skin had a sallow appearance, she was struggling with her weight, was tired all the time and she had trouble sleeping. She could not understand why she had a heart attack at such a young age. None of her physicians could explain her heart attack.

We first told her that chronologically she was only 35 years of age. However, hormonally she was approximately 62 years to 65 years. At age 25 she was “jump started” into menopause by the removal of her ovaries. These years, hormonally or chronologically, are the prime years for women to have heart disease. R.J. had never been placed on any hormones and when tested, she had no estrogen, no progesterone and very low levels of testosterone. Her levels were those of menopausal women NOT on bioidentical hormones.

Premature Loss of Estrogen/Accelerated Aging

Most of us now know that estradiol, the active form of estrogen, performs 400 functions in the female body. *Among its many functions, estradiol helps protect the brain, heart, bones, eyes and skin. In menopause, estradiol declines to a very low level and often to zero. This happens as part of the aging process and we continue to deteriorate if we do not restore estradiol to healthier levels.

*However, this aging process is accelerated when ovaries are removed before menopause. Women dramatically and immediately lose all of the benefits of estradiol when their ovaries are surgically removed. At Natural Bio Health, we have seen dramatic effects on aging, sleep, energy, weight gain, mood, and many more negative effects.  The article reprinted below shows one of the dramatic affects this has on cognition. 

Loss of Ovaries Results in Two-Fold Increase in Cognitive Decline and Dementia.

The below article is from materials prepared by the Medical College of Georgia. The author states (conservatively in our opinion) that estrogen appears to help protect younger females from problems such as stroke and heart attack. The science is that it does protect against these risks just as it protects women in menopause and post-menopause from these risks. The risks of all of the “diseases of aging” increase after menopause for all women (and for all men after andropause).

Many women have both their uterus and ovaries removed long before they would go into menopause.

Women who abruptly and prematurely lose estrogen from surgical menopause have a two-fold increase in cognitive decline and dementia.

“This is what the clinical studies indicate and our animal studies looking at the underlying mechanisms back this up,” said Brann, corresponding author of the study in the journal Brain. “We wanted to find out why that is occurring. We suspect it’s due to the premature loss of estrogen.”

In an effort to mimic what occurs in women, Brann and his colleagues looked at rats 10 weeks after removal of their estrogen-producing ovaries that were either immediately started on low-dose estrogen therapy, started therapy 10 weeks later or never given estrogen. When the researchers caused a stroke-like event in the brain’s hippocampus, a center of learning and memory, they found the rodents treated late or not at all experienced more brain damage, specifically to a region of the hippocampus called CA3 that is normally stroke-resistant.

To make matters worse, untreated or late-treated rats also began an abnormal, robust production of Alzheimer’s disease-related proteins in the CA3 region, even becoming hypersensitive to one of the most toxic of the beta amyloid proteins that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Both problems appear associated with the increased production of free radicals in the brain. In fact, when the researchers blocked the excessive production, heightened stroke sensitivity and brain cell death in the CA3 region were reduced. Interestingly the brain’s increased sensitivity to stressors such as inadequate oxygen was gender specific, Brann said. Removing testes in male rats, didn’t affect stroke size or damage.

Although exactly how it works is unknown, estrogen appears to help protect younger females from problems such as stroke and heart attack. Their risks of the maladies increase after menopause to about the same as males. Follow up studies are needed to see if estrogen therapy also reduces sensitivity to the beta amyloid protein in the CA3 region, as they expect, Brann noted.

Brann earlier showed that prolonged estrogen deprivation in aging rats dramatically reduces the number of brain receptors for the hormone as well as its ability to prevent strokes. Damage was forestalled if estrogen replacement was started shortly after hormone levels drop, according to the 2011 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The surprising results of the much-publicized Women’s Health Initiative — a 12-year study of 161,808 women ages 50-79 — found hormone therapy generally increased rather than decreased stroke risk as well as other health problems. Critics said one problem with the study was that many of the women, like Brann’s aged rats, had gone years without hormone replacement, bolstering the case that timing is everything.

Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University and by Medaus Pharmacy.

Journal Reference for reprinted article:

Q.-g. Zhang, R.-m. Wang, E. Scott, D. Han, Y. Dong, J.-y. Tu, F. Yang, G. Reddy Sareddy, R. K. Vadlamudi, D. W. Brann. Hypersensitivity of the hippocampal CA3 region to stress-induced neurodegeneration and amyloidogenesis in a rat model of surgical menopause. Brain, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/brain/awt046.

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