An article in the latest Oprah magazine by Barbara Seaman says that there is new research about the value of hanging on to your ovaries. If you had the misfortune of having a hysterectomy during the 1990s then you had a 78% chance of having your ovaries taken out as well - supposedly for prevention.
A study published in the August 2005 Obstetrics and Gynecology journal says that the risk of ovarian cancer is really low compared to the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis caused by lack of estrogen. At no age is there a clear benefit from removing the ovaries.
For every 10,000 women whose ovaries were removed, there would be 47 fewer cases of ovarian cancer by the age of 80, but 838 extra deaths from heart disease and 158 more deaths from hip fractures.
So, if you or a friend is heading for a hysterectomy tell your doctor you want your ovaries left intact. This will also save you from the very uncomfortable effects of premature menopause.