Changing trends in Black-White racial differences in surgical menopause: a population-based study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Nov;225(5):502.e1-502.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2021.05.045. Epub 2021 Jun 8.


Background: Bilateral oophorectomy before menopause, or surgical menopause, is associated with negative health outcomes, including an increased risk for stroke and other cardiovascular outcomes; however, surgical menopause also dramatically reduces ovarian cancer incidence and mortality rates. Because there are competing positive and negative sequelae associated with surgical menopause, clinical guidelines have not been definitive. Previous research indicates that White women have higher rates of surgical menopause than other racial groups. However, previous studies may have underestimated the rates of surgical menopause among Black women. Furthermore, clinical practice has changed dramatically in the past 15 years, and there are no population-based studies in which more recent data were used. Tracking actual racial differences among women with surgical menopause is important for ensuring equity in gynecologic care.

Objective: This population-based surveillance study evaluated racial differences in the rates of surgical menopause in all inpatient and outpatient settings in a large, racially diverse US state with historically high rates of hysterectomy.

Study design: We evaluated all inpatient and outpatient surgeries in North Carolina from 2011 to 2014 for patients aged between 20 and 44 years. Surgical menopause was defined as a bilateral oophorectomy, with or without an accompanying hysterectomy, among North Carolina residents. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, and Current Procedural Terminology codes were used to identify inpatient and outpatient procedures, respectively, and diagnostic indications. We estimated age-, race-, and ethnicity-specific rates of surgical menopause using county-specific population estimates based on the 2010 United States census. We used Poisson regression with deviance-adjusted residuals to estimate the incidence rate ratios in the entire state population. We tested changes in surgery rates over time (reference year, 2011), differences by setting (reference, inpatient), and differences by race and ethnicity (reference, non-Hispanic White). We then described the surgery rates between non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black patients.

Results: Between 2011 and 2014, 11,502 surgical menopause procedures for benign indications were performed in North Carolina among reproductive-aged residents. Most (95%) of these surgeries occurred concomitant with a hysterectomy. Over the 4-year study period, there was a 39% reduction in inpatient surgeries (incidence rate ratio, 0.61) and a 100% increase in outpatient surgeries (incidence rate ratio, 2.0). Restricting the analysis to surgeries among non-Hispanic White and Black patients, the increase in outpatient surgeries was significantly higher among non-Hispanic Black women (P<.01) for year-race interaction (reference, 2011 and non-Hispanic White). The overall rates of bilateral oophorectomy for non-Hispanic Black women rose more quickly than for non-Hispanic White women (P<.01). In 2011, the rate of surgical menopause was greater among White women than among Black women (17.7 vs 13.2 per 10,000 women). By 2014, the racial trends were reversed (rate, 24.8 per 10,000 for non-Hispanic White women and 28.4 per 10,000 for non-Hispanic Black women).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the rates of surgical menopause increased in North Carolina in the early 2010s, especially among non-Hispanic Black women. By 2014, the rates of surgical menopause among non-Hispanic Black women had surpassed that of non-Hispanic White women. Given the long-term health consequences associated with surgical menopause, we propose potential drivers for the racially-patterned increases in the application of bilateral oophorectomy before the age of 45 years.

Keywords: bilateral oophorectomy; health disparities; population-based; premenopausal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy / trends*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Ovariectomy / trends
  • Population Surveillance
  • Postmenopause*
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult