Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries. During the surgery one or both of the ovaries can be removed. When only one ovary is removes it is known as unilateral oophorectomy, while when both of the ovaries are removed, it is known as bilateral oophorectomy. In many cases ovaries surgical removal is accompanied by the removal of the uterus. In some cases is accompanied by the removal of the fallopian tubes. In these cases the procedure is known as salpingo – oophorectomy. Partial oophorectomy consists of several procedures that try to preserve the ovarian tissue in order to give the women the ability to have biological children in the future. During partial oophorectomy the ovaries are not removed entirely. Partial oophorectomy includes a partial resection of the ovaries, removal of the cyst, etc. However, even though the entire ovary is not removed and the functional tissue of the ovary is preserved, a complete ovarian failure develops after the surgery.
Once the ovaries are removed, a woman loses the ability to have children in the future. This is due to the fact that there are no ovaries any more to produce the eggs, which are necessary.
Why Is Oophorectomy Performed?
Ovary removal surgery is usually performed in cases with ovarian cancer, suspicious ovarian growths, ovarian cysts, ovarian torsion, etc. Among many therapeutic advantages, oophorectomy can also be a prophylactic method for treating various conditions like, endometriosis, certain types of cancer, etc. Endometriosis is characterized by the growth of the uterine tissue outside of the uterus. By removing the ovaries the growth of the uterine tissue will not be stimulated. Therefore, the signs and symptoms of endometriosis will be successfully eliminated. In some cases even the bleeding stops completely.
Ovary Removal: Possible Risks and Side Effects
Like any other surgical procedure, ovary removal surgery has possible risks and complications that can occur during the surgery or after the surgery is performed. Oophorectomy is an intra-abdominal surgery and serious complications are rare. Possible risks and complications of oophorectomy include:
- Damage to the nearby organs like the bladder, bowel, etc.
- Rupture of a tumor which will spread the cancerous cells
- Retention of ovary cells that continue to cause signs and symptoms, such as pelvic pain, in premenopausal women (ovarian remnant syndrome)
- Small bowel obstruction
Early Menopause Due to the Lack of Hormones
One of the major problems regarding ovary removal surgery is early menopause. In case of oophorectomy the production of the hormones ceases completely. This will result in lack of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which are normally produced by the ovaries. Possible complications after oophorectomy due to the lack of hormones include:
- Signs and symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc.
- Bone fractures
- Los of libido
- Difficulty with sexual arousal
- Vaginal dryness
- Memory problems
- Heart disease
- Premature death, etc.
Oophorectomy has serious long-term consequences resulting from the lack of hormones.
After a surgical removal of the ovaries, a hormone replacement therapy is recommended. Hormonal replacement therapy is necessary in order to prevent potential complications. However, hormone replacement therapy does not always reduce the adverse effects.