Hysterectomy May Affect Memory and Cognition
In medical textbooks, the nonpregnant uterus is often described as quiescent, dormant and useless. But now, researchers have found that the uterus may play a role in memory and cognition — a role hitherto unappreciated because researchers haven’t looked closely at the uterus’s role outside of pregnancy.
A third of women in the U.S. have their uteruses removed, a procedure called hysterectomy, by age 60, according to Heather Bimonte-Nelson, who directs Arizona State University’s behavioral neuroscience of memory and aging lab and is senior author of a new paper detailing the research.
The uterus is connected to the autonomic nervous system, which coordinates unconscious functions like breathing and digestion. While researchers have long studied the way the ovaries interact in the body and with the brain, the uterus has often been overlooked, according to the researchers, who studied the effects of hysterectomy in female rats.
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