Uterus removal can affect memory: study

The study says that removing the uterus, a surgical procedure known as hysterectomy has a definite impact on spatial memory.

Chennai: Uterus interacts with the brain and affects memory, finds a new study published in the journal Endocrinology, by Arizona State University.

The study says that removing the uterus, a surgical procedure known as hysterectomy – has a definite impact on spatial memory. The study said that women who underwent hysterectomy but maintained their ovaries had an increased risk for dementia if the surgery occurred before natural menopause.

The study conducted in an animal model states that uterus is associated with the neurological and neuropsychological functioning of the brain and affects memory.

Besides the basic role of reproduction and pregnancy, uterus interacts with the brain and is more than being in a dormant state when a woman is not pregnant.

The study on the rat model by Professor Heather Bimonte-Nelson demonstrated that removing the uterus impacts spatial memory, also causing serious outcomes such as dementia as it influences cognitive processes.

The authors of the study said that the autonomic nervous system, which regulates various functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, and sexual arousal, is linked to uterus and brain. Based on this, the researchers investigated the impact of removal of uterus on cognitive functioning.

Dividing females rats in a group of four, of which one underwent removal of uterus, while second underwent removal of ovaries, in the third group both the organs were removed and fourth group had all organs intact.

After six weeks of the procedure, they were trained to navigate through a complex maze structure to test the memories of the rats.

It was found that the group of rats that underwent removal of uterus found it most difficult to pass through the structure, while the spatial memories of other groups were unaffected.

The author said that the surgical removal of the uterus had a unique and negative effect on working memory, or how much information the rats were able to manage simultaneously, an effect we saw after the rats learned the rules of the maze.

Increase in incidence of uterine diseases

Abnormal uterine bleeding, ovarian cysts and fibroids have become more common in the present scenario, mainly because of lifestyle changes and are some of the common complaints brought to gynecologists. These problems often lead to psychological, medical, and sexual problems requiring pharmacologic and surgical interventions, with hysterectomy being the most common surgery. Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) have historically been viewed as important chiefly as the major indication for hysterectomy. As new therapies are developed, the heterogeneity of this disease becomes therapeutically relevant. The incidence of fibroid in pregnancy is about 1 in 1,000 in India as per International Journal of Applied Research in 2017.

Removal of uterus and ovaries effects cognitive functions

Medicos say that various hormones are released from the uterus that are secreted in the ovary and therefore, removal of ovary is more likely to affect the cognitive functions. The removal of uterus leads to bodily changes and is a cause of depression in many cases.

“Doctors try to avoid removal of ovaries until and unless there is a high risk of malignancy or ovarian cancer, as various hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and androgen are released from the ovary and are essential for the female body. Ovary removal acts like meno-pause and leads to aging in females. Usually memory related problems are associated with aging and removal of ovaries adds to it, affecting the cognitive functioning of the brain,” said Dr Mala Raj, gynecologist, Mint Hospitals.

Hormones affect both brain and other body systems, and a change in the hormone secreations could impact cognitive aging and could create different health risks. Agreeing to the same senior neurologist Dr Deepak Arjundas says that removal of uterus cannot lead to dementia as it is caused to do the accumulation of a protein inside neuron that affects the functioning of the brain. Neurologists say that though removal of uterus can have psychological affects, serious memory related issues such as dementia are not common. Depression, weight gain and mood swings are common due to the removal of uterus but neurological issues such as dementia are less likely.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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