Diseases list > Oophorectomy


What Is Oophorectomy?

Oophorectomy is a prophylactic surgical procedure that involves removing an ovary or ovaries from a woman’s reproductive system. The word prohylactic is used as the intention of the surgery is to prevent, rather than cure a medical condition. Hence, surgery is always the medium used by doctors to stop the condition from worsening. However, there are some instances where surgery becomes a reason for more complications and greater health risks. People who have undergone oophorectomy know this fact.

Reasons For Oophorectomy

An oophorectomy is performed when the doctor confirms breast cancer or ovarian cancer risks. Basically it is done to remove cysts or any other matter which may increase a woman’s risk of getting cancer together with the ovary, fallopian tube or even the whole uterus. It is also done to remove the source of estrogen which is also one cause of cancer. Oophorectomy is also performed as a treatment for endometriosis and although in some rare cases it is also effective in preventing the thickening of the uterus lining.

Oophorectomy and ligation are both different procedures although in both cases, a woman’s reproductive system is involved. Ligation is regarded as a means of birth control. Women who have undergone an oophorectomy is still capable of pregnancy even if only one of the two ovaries is removed. However, when  both ovaries are removed in oophorectomy, menstruation totally ends together with the chance to get pregnant.

As with many surgical procedures, an oophorectomy is performed under general anesthesia. To allow the surgeon a good view of the abdominal cavity, an incision is made which is like an abdominal hysterectomy, either vertical or horizontal. The parts that are affected are removed - and in some cases one or both ovaries or the fallopian tubes are also removed.

A laparoscopic procedure is used to assist in oophorectomy. In this method, a tiny camera lens is introduced in a small incision which will help the surgeon view the internal parts of the abdomen through a monitor.

Risks Involved In Oophorectomy

In most cases, women who have a family history of breast and ovarian cancers are advised to take extra precaution to prevent the occurence of these dreaded diseases as they are at a greater risk of contracting it. After a doctor diagnoses and confirms your risk for cancer through an ovarian cyst or tumors, this will make you a candidate for an oophorectomy. Before it is performed, a doctor will do several tests to make sure that the patient is in good physical condition to undergo surgery.

When the intention for an oophorectomy is to minimize the risk for cancer, both ovaries are removed in a surgical procedure that is called Bilateral Oophorectomy. However, with young women who have not had a chance to bear children and start a family, doctors do take a special consideration and may agree to perform a Unilateral Oophorectomy and remove just one ovary instead.

Complications Arising From An Oophorectomy

In the 1980s, it was reported that many cases of oophorectomy had been performed on women who have healthy ovaries and fallopian tubes and their reason for this was to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer which arise after menopause. However, in the 1990s when the side effects of the procedure was discovered, women started to rethink about undergoing this procedure unless necessary. Inspite of all the involved risks, oophorectomy remains the favored treatment for women who dread cancer. As a proof of this, in 2004 close to 50,000 cases of oophorectomy were reported. The reason for this was because the procedure had been found to be very effective. Patients who carried the genetic mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 have reduced their risk of breast cancer from 89% to 19%. Although ovarian cancer remains a low-mortality rank of the fatal disease list, it is still vital for women to know what choices are available in the event that it becomes a concern for them.

Effects Of Oophorectomy

Undergoing surgery for any ailment is never an easy thing for a patient who will have to expect any complication to appear. Some ordinary short-term effects of this procedure include blood clotting, internal bleeding, infection, emotional stress and accidental injury to other organs.

While long term effects are more serious. Add to that, the fact that oophorectomy does not completely rule out the risk of the occurrence of cancer. In some cases, the cancer has already metastasid in the other parts of the body so there is absolutely no assurance for complete prognosis.

Another fact to consider is that oophorectomy fast tracks menopause. The menopausal signs and symptoms are more severe than when you are experiencing the normal menopausal cycle. All the bad effects due to the non-production of hormones will continue until the time when the normal menopause comes.

Aside from these severe and sudden symptoms of menopause due to oophorectomy, it also increases a woman’s risk for cardiovascular ailments. The actual cause is not clearly established but studies have shown that women who have had oophorectomy are seven times more vulnerable to have heart conditions in the future.

Other effects associated with oophorectomy include cases of early onset of osteoporosis and other bone related problems due to the sudden hormonal loss.

Sexual dysfunction is also commonly seen in women who have undergone oophorectomy. In the process, they are unable to achieve orgasm and experience a decline in their sexual desire. This can happen during menopause but there is a more significant and greater chance of experiencing this after oophorectomy.

How To Manage The Effects Of Oophorectomy

Normally a Hormone Replacement Therapy is prescribed by the doctor. However, since HRT has been introduced, it had been getting criticisms because of the established risks involved. But despite of the risks, patients still continue to use this therapy to control the effects of lost hormones and improve their general well being. Today, doctors still continue to prescribe HRT to patients as they think that the benefits outweigh the risks. But this does not mean that HRT is the only method to control and normalize the effects of oophorectomy.There are some non-hormonal programs which can help with bone density risks and some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are known to help with menopausal problems such as the drug Prozac.

Still the best weapon to arm yourself to brace the effects of oophorectomy is to be well informed about the procedure. If you discover that you are a probable candidate, consult your doctor and discuss with him what option are available to you. To be informed is the best way to prepare yourself for the coming difficult days.