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Oophorectomy is the surgical process of removing one or both ovaries. This is performed on a woman when certain abnormalities are noticed in the ovary.

A woman becomes infertile when both the ovaries are removed. This procedure is known as bilateral oophorectomy. When oophorectomy is combined with a surgery to remove the fallopian tube, then this procedure is called salpingo-oophorectomy.

We shall look into the details of this procedure in the following content.

Why an oophorectomy is performed?

Doctors advice oophorectomy  when a woman suffers from the following disorders or is carrying high risk of any of the following heath abnormalities:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Severe endometriosis
  • Benign ovarian cysts
  • Ovarian torsion
  • To excise an abscess
  • To reduce risk of breast cancer in women who have inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2

How to prepare for the test

During the appointment, your doctor will evaluate your health and then decide whether you are the right candidate for the surgery. Tests like physical exam, ultrasound, CT scan, blood and urine tests will be performed in this regard.

If you need a bilateral oophorectomy, then you have to be mentally prepared to lose your reproductive ability for the lifetime. However, you can get pregnant and have normal periods with retention of one ovary. Discuss all these issues with your doctor.

You need to tell your doctor about the medicines you are taking because a week before the surgery he/she might ask you to stop certain medicines which includes anti-inflammatory drugs and blood thinners.

You doctor will further let you know what to eat and drink and how long you need to keep your stomach empty before the surgery.

How is oophorectomy performed?

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Laparoscopy: A small incision is made near the navel to insert the laparoscope. A tiny camera is attached at one end of the laparoscope which will give a proper view of the pelvic organs on the computer monitor. The surgical tools will be inserted through a few small cuts made on the abdomen to detach the ovary. The incisions are then stitched.

Abdominal Incision: This is a proper invasive technique wherein a horizontal or a vertical cut is made in the lower abdomen to gain access to the ovaries for proceeding towards the operation which will involve detaching the ovary from the surrounding tissues and blood vessels.

The surgery will last for 1-4 hours, depending upon the technique used and the patient is given anesthesia before the operation.

What to expect after

  • Your stay in hospital will last for a day if it’s a laparoscopy or else for a general surgery you will be retained for 2-5 days, depending on your response.
  • Your doctor will let you know what precautions you need to take at home after the surgery which mainly revolves around your diet, day-to-day activities like body movements, bathing, etc.
  • If you have any queries regarding your sexual life, feel free to clarify it.
  • Post operative pain is normal and it can last for a few weeks.

Risks associated with oophorectomy

Every procedure has certain advantages and disadvantages. Some health risks of oophorectomy are:

  • Surgical bleeding
  • Accidental  injury to nearby organs
  • Post surgical Infections
  • Increased cardiovascular risk
  • Vulnerable to osteoporosis
  • Decline of sexual interest
  • Ovarian remnant syndrome

Note: The side effects are managed with oophorectomy drugs, which could be non-hormonal or hormonal in nature. However, hormonal replacement therapy is generally not advised by doctor.

It takes at least 6 weeks for a woman to get back to normal life as rest is itself the best healing technique. We encourage you to cope with the situation with a positive stride to see a bright future.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015