Ovarian status in healthy postmenopausal women

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Abstract

Objective:

There are currently no programs to assess ovarian health in postmenopausal women. The aim of this study was to describe the ovaries in healthy women at least 5 years after menopause by questionnaire, transvaginal ultrasonography, and blood ovarian cancer markers.

Design:

A total of 515 women who were asymptomatic and at the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop +2 stage of menopause (>5 y postmenopause) were recruited by advertisement. Clinical history was obtained by questionnaire, and biophysical assessment by a transvaginal ultrasound investigation and biochemical assessment by serum CA-125 and inhibin were performed. Abnormal findings were confirmed and then reviewed.

Results:

Both ovaries were identified by transvaginal ultrasonography in 71% of women. The right ovary was visualized in 86.3% of these volunteers, and the left ovary was visualized in 78%. The presence of small unilocular cysts and echogenic foci facilitated identification of the ovary in some women. Ovarian/paraovarian lesions were present in 12.6% of women. Abnormalities of the endometrium and uterus were also common, prompting surgery in 7.2% of the women. Total serum inhibin concentrations were normal for postmenopausal women, whereas serum CA-125 was elevated in two women.

Conclusions:

We find that the description and detection of postmenopausal ovaries by transvaginal ultrasonography allows the identification of both ovaries in most postmenopausal women. Ultrasonography-detected abnormalities of the ovary and/or the uterus/endometrium are common in women at this stage of life. The potential need for surgical intervention after the detection of such abnormalities needs to be carefully evaluated when considering transvaginal ultrasonography as a screening tool for ovarian cancer.

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