Dr. Parker shares how a woman can decide whether to remove or keep her ovaries during her hysterectomy procedure.
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EmpowHer Asks: If a woman needs a hysterectomy, how does she decide if her ovaries should be taken out or not? Dr. William H. Parker Is Board— Certified by The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology If you do need a hysterectomy for medical reasons and this is what you determined is in your best interest, if you have a family history of ovarian cancer or you have the gene BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene, you definitely should have your ovaries out because that will prevent you from getting ovarian cancer. In the normal population the risk of ovarian cancer, if you take out the high-risk women, it’s probably less than one in a hundred. If you have a hysterectomy and leave the ovaries, the incidents of ovarian cancer goes down to one in two hundred, it goes down by half for reasons we don’t really understand very well. If you have one of these genes BRCA-1 or 2, then your risk of ovarian cancer is almost 40%, one in two or three. So those women absolutely should have their ovaries out. If you decide that you’ve known somebody whose had ovarian cancer and you just are very nervous about that disease, understanding that the ovaries are going to make hormones for quite a while, you still could choose to do it but I think most women when they have this information that your ovaries continue to make hormones and provide you health benefits, would probably choose not to have the ovaries taken out.