What is oophorectomy?

What is an oophorectomy with hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is surgery to take out the uterus. This is the organ in the lower belly where a fetus can grow during pregnancy.

Oophorectomy is surgery to take out one or both ovaries. These are the glands that store and release eggs. They also make sex hormones.

Sometimes the uterus and ovaries are taken out at the same time. And in some cases, one or both of the fallopian tubes are removed too.

How do you choose whether to have your ovaries removed?

Sometimes there is a health reason to have your ovaries removed. Maybe you have a tumor on an ovary. Or maybe you're at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer. You may be able to choose whether to have one, both, or part of your ovaries removed based on what you prefer and your health condition. Talk to your doctor about your options.

Some reasons to have your ovaries removed

  • It almost always prevents cancer of the ovaries. This cancer isn't common. But it's something that you may want to think about.
  • You won't need surgery later for problems with your ovaries. For instance, sometimes growths happen on the ovaries later in life. This doesn't happen very often. But it won't happen to you if you don't have ovaries.
  • If you are having gender-affirming surgery, you may choose to have your ovaries removed.

Some reasons to keep your ovaries

  • You want to use your eggs for a future pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about your options if you plan to have both ovaries removed and want to use your eggs for a possible pregnancy in the future.
  • You can avoid sudden menopause. This happens if you haven't gone through menopause yet when your ovaries are removed. It can cause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. But you can take medicines for these symptoms.
  • Your bones may stay strong. Having your ovaries removed may lead to more fragile bones. But you can take medicine to prevent this.
  • Having your ovaries removed may raise your risk for some long-term health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. These risks may be higher for people who have their ovaries removed when they are younger. The benefits of keeping your ovaries go down as you age. Talk to your doctor about what's best for you.

What can you expect as you recover from an oophorectomy?

  • If you have laparoscopic surgery, you may go home the same day. If you have open surgery, you will stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days. You can expect to feel better each day. But you may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. It depends on which type of surgery you have and your overall health. You will need to avoid strenuous activity and lifting anything heavy while you recover.
  • If both ovaries are removed, you will start menopause if you haven't already. You may have symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy can help these symptoms.
  • If both ovaries are removed, you can only get pregnant with help from a medical procedure. If you want to use your eggs for a possible pregnancy in the future, talk to your doctor about your options before you have surgery.

How is oophorectomy done?

The type of surgery you have depends on why you are having it done.

You may have:

  • Laparoscopic surgery. This type is done with very small cuts in your belly. The doctor then puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other special tools through the cuts in your belly.
  • Open surgery (laparotomy). With open surgery, the doctor makes a larger cut in the belly. It takes longer to recover from this surgery than from laparoscopy.
  • Vaginal surgery. In this surgery, the ovaries and uterus are taken out through the vagina. Doctors may use a laparoscope during the surgery.

Why is an oophorectomy done?

Oophorectomy may be done to treat ovarian cancer. It may also be done to treat other problems, such as a twisted ovary, an ovarian cyst or abscess, or endometriosis. And sometimes it's done to reduce your risk of breast or ovarian cancer. It can also be done as a part of gender-affirming surgery.

How do you choose whether to have your ovaries removed?

Sometimes there is a health reason to have your ovaries removed. Maybe you have a tumor on an ovary or are at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer. You may be able to choose whether to have one, both, or part of your ovaries removed based on what you prefer and your condition.

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