Women who undergo hysterectomies are a nearly twice the risk of developing menopause early, new research finds.

The study by Duke University researchers is the largest analysis to track over time the hormonal impact of women who had their uteruses removed compared to those whose uteruses remained intact.

The study was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Hysterectomies are common treatments for conditions such as fibroids and excessive bleeding, a Duke University researcher noted.

“Most women are very satisfied with the results of a hysterectomy. But this is a potential risk of the surgery that should be considered along with the benefit,” said Prof. Patricia G. Moorman, the lead author of the study.

"This could potentially change practice because women who are considering hysterectomy for fibroids or other problems may want to explore other treatment options for their condition if they know they may go through menopause earlier," Moorman said.

About 600,000 women undergo the procedure annually in the United States.

The study involved nearly 900 women ages 30 to 47 at two hospitals in Durham, North Carolina. The study followed up with women over a five year period.

The study found 14.8 percent of women in the study who had hysterectomies, yet keeping their ovaries, experienced menopause over the course of the study. Only 8 percent of women who did not have the procedure experienced menopause.

The researchers estimated that menopause occurred about two years earlier in the women who underwent hysterectomy.

Researchers said it was unknown what triggers the ovaries of some women to shut down after a hysterectomy.