The incidence of early menopause has increased by 5-10% in recent years
Bengaluru / October 17, 2020 – Unnecessary hysterectomies being performed on young women in the country are leading to early onset of menopause and osteoporosis at a very early age, said Dr. Vidya V Bhat, the well-known Laparoscopic Surgeon and Fertility Specialist who is the Medical Director of RadhaKrishna Multispecialty Hospital, Bengaluru, in the run-up to the World Osteoporosis Day.
An alarming number of women today, especially in rural communities, are undergoing hysterectomy. They are getting their uterus removed surgically even in cases where the organ can be saved by opting for other medical options. Hysterectomy has in fact become the second most common surgery in women today in India after caesarean delivery. A significant number of hysterectomies done in the country are unnecessary and even unethical, said Dr. Vidya Bhat.
Dr. Vidya Bhat added: “In India, 6% of all women aged 30-49 years have undergone hysterectomy. While in Karnataka, the figure is 5.4%, in Andhra Pradesh, it is as high as 16.6%. Women, mostly from poor socio-economic backgrounds, are often coaxed into hysterectomy with the fear of cancer. In many instances, it is inappropriately recommended as the first line of treatment for minor gynaecological issues. Women without a uterus age faster. Their ovarian reserve declines and they experience early onset of menopause and symptoms of osteoporosis at an early age. Many alternative methods of treatment to hysterectomy today exist, including oral remedies, hormonal injections for excessive menstrual bleeding, and removal of just the fibroid and not the entire uterus. So women should avoid going for hysterectomy as far as possible.”
Dr. Vidya Bhat said: “The incidence of early menopause has increased by 5-10% in recent years due to causes like early hysterectomy, the fad of crash dieting, smoking, juvenile diabetes, etc. The average age of women at natural menopause is 51, but it can start earlier or later. A few women start menopause as young as 40 years, while others as late as 60 years. Women who smoke tend to have menopause a few years earlier than non-smokers. Early menopause can cause hot flushes, repeated urinary tract infections, cardiac disease, early ageing and osteoporosis. It can also lead to mental disturbances like depression, loneliness, and irritability. I recently saw a 26-year-old patient with early menopause who had undergone hysterectomy for white discharge.”
Talking about osteoporosis, Dr Vidya Bhat said that it is a condition characterized by a decrease in the density of bones. The bones become abnormally porous and compressible, much like a sponge. This in turn leads to fragile bones and frequent fractures.
Dr. Vidya Bhat said: Osteoporosis affects 200 million women worldwide. It is a silent disease that shows no symptoms in early stages. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures every year, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. About 1 in every 3 women above 50 years of age will experience osteoporotic fractures in areas like spine, hips, ribs or wrists. The peak incidence of osteoporosis in the west is 70-80 years, compared to 50-60 years for India. Osteoporosis is three times more common among women than men, as they have low peak bone mass, go through hormonal changes at menopause and live longer than men.”
Dr. Vidya Bhat said that many of the factors leading to osteoporosis are preventable, such as cigarette smoking, chronic low body weight, estrogen deficiency, low intake of calcium or vitamin D, inadequate physical activity (bones need stress to maintain themselves), inadequate exposure to sunlight and recurrent falls due to slipping on the floor, etc.
The ongoing lockdown has negatively impacted osteoporosis patients due to an increase in intake of junk food, smoking and alcohol, weight gain due to physical inactivity, excessive stress and anxiety, and reduce exposure to sun due to staying indoors, Dr Vidya Bhat added.
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