New study finds significant improvements in pelvic pain, depression after hysterectomy

CHAPEL HILL -- Gynecologists have long been concerned at the lack of data on whether or not women with pelvic pain and or depression before hysterectomy improve in these symptoms after surgery.

"Our worst fear was that we might be making the situation worse by doing a hysterectomy," said Dr. Katherine Hartmann, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. She also is assistant professor of epidemiology in UNC's School of Public Health.

Results from a new study by Hartmann may have answered this concern convincingly, showing for the first time significant improvements in self-reported pelvic pain and depression after hysterectomy.

The study, which enrolled nearly 1,300 women, involved interviews with women before and after surgery. Participants were asked to quantify their pain and depression, using well-validated methods, before surgery and also at six, 12 and 24 months after surgery. For the data analysis, women with symptoms were separated into three groups based on their preoperative interviews: those with pelvic pain only, depression only or both pelvic pain and depression.

Each group showed clear improvement in all measures of pain and depression two years after hysterectomy, Hartmann said. "This is strong evidence that we haven't made women worse, and, in fact, relative to their own baseline, women are doing much better."

Hartmann, also director of UNC's Center for Women's Health Research, said she was particularly pleased to see that the group with the most serious preoperative symptoms - that is, those with both pelvic pain and depression - improved most overall. Prior to hysterectomy, 96 percent of women in this group reported pelvic pain, which dropped to only 19 percent after hysterectomy. A similar improvement was seen in their depression: Ninety-three percent reported impaired mental health before hysterectomy, but only 38 percent after the oper

Contact: L. H. Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

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