Pre-menopausal Hysterectomy May Lead to Cognitive Decline

Leslie Carol Botha: I just connected with the Hormones Matter health advocates through the social media networks.  Now you know there are many women concerned about hormone health.  Hormones really do matter.  And when on part of the neuro-endocrine-immune system is tampered with it will affect the other two systems.  In this case pre-menopausal hysterectomies affect the memory center of the brain.  Everything is connected to everything else in the body. And the hormones are the messengers.

Hormones, Hysterectomy and the Hippocampus

Hormones Matter
by Chandler Marrs, PhD
April 5, 2013

hippocampusNew research, conducted on rodents, suggests that pre-menopausal hysterectomy with ovariectomy induces changes in the hippocampus (memory center of brain) making it hypersensitive to ischemic stressors (reduced blood flow). In contrast, ischemic stressors did not cause hippocampal damage in non-ovariectomized female rats or even gonadectomized male rats.

The hippocampus, located in the temporal lobe of the brain, is responsible for working memory formation, storage and retrieval. Researchers have long known that damage to cells in the hippocampus cause significant problems in short-term, long-term and working memory, ranging from mild cognitive decline to complete impairment. Certain cells in the hippocampus are particularly sensitive to the amyloid protein buildup associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the current study, removal of the ovaries and the associated long-term estradiol deprivation made the hippocampus hypersensitive to ischemic stressors and induced a myriad of events leading to significant hippocampal CA3 cell damage and cell death. The long term estradiol deprivation also led to increased amyloid production and associated neurodegeneration. As one might expect, damage and disruption to the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, was associated with the animal’s ability to learn, remember and function.

What was particularly interesting, female animals who retained their ovaries and were exposed to the same ischemic stressor demonstrated neither the brain damage nor the decline in cognitive function.  Similarly, male animals whose gonads were removed, suffered no notable brain damage or cognitive decline either. It was only the female animals whose ovaries were removed and whose systems were deprived of estradiol for a long period of time.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.