Oophorectomy: Should My Ovaries Stay or Go?

The Decision to Keep the Ovaries is Complicated

oophorectomy and hysterectomy
Hysterectomy With or Without Oophorectomy. A.D.A.M @ About.com

Question: Oophorectomy: Should My Ovaries Stay or Go?

Answer:

Bilateral oophorectomy, or the surgical procedure to have both ovaries removed, is frequently performed during the same surgery as a hysterectomy.  A total hysterectomy is a procedure where both the uterus and the ovaries are removed. 

Many women elect to keep the ovaries, as the surgical removal of both ovaries causes the body to immediately go into menopause, with all of the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, night sweats, changes in mood, hair loss, decreased metabolism and weight gain and dry skin.

 

Menopause can lead to other changes in the body.  After menopause, women are more likely to develop heart disease, urinary incontinence, and osteoporosis.  Some women choose to keep their ovaries to avoid premature menopause, and the conditions that often develop after menopause is complete.

When to Have an Oophorectomy

In some cases, the ovaries must be removed for the health of the patient, particularly in cases where ovarian cancer is present. Women with strong family histories of ovarian cancer often elect to have the ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer from having the opportunity to develop. 

In other cases, the removal of the ovaries is elective, meaning it is a choice the patient and surgeon make based on the patient’s medical history, health and family history.

Before having an elective oophorectomy, it is important to understand the general risks of surgery, as well as risks and side effects that are unique to this procedure.

It is important to discuss your unique medical history and your wishes with your surgeon prior to making your final decision to have this procedure. 

Oophorectomy Side Effects

Besides the general side effects of surgery that individuals experience during their recovery such as risk of infection, oophorectomy causes:

  • Sterility
  • Menopause, including hot flashes/night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety and other symptoms

Individuals who are having an oophorectomy despite their desire to have children may want to consider preserving their eggs. While a woman would not be able to bear children after a hysterectomy, this procedure would allow a surrogate to carry the woman's biological child. 

Oophorectomy Risks

  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of dementia, vascular problems, and neurological problems due to earlier menopause

Everything You Need To Know About Hysterectomy Surgery

Sources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Elective and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); January2008

Removal of Ovaries During Hysterectomy May Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Premature Death. KaiserNetwork.org. Accessed January 29, 2009. http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=2&DR_ID=31754

Continue Reading