In general, oophorectomy is performed in women who are finished with childbearing or are accepting of the resultant loss of fertility. The procedure is used to treat many female health conditions, including:
- Ovarian cysts or tumors
- Ovarian cancer
- Ovarian torsion
- Increased risk of ovarian or breast cancer
When done in conjunction with a removal of fallopian tubes and the uterus, oophorectomy helps to treat:
- Uterine fibroids (most commonly)
- Pelvic support problems, such as uterine prolapse
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Gynecologic cancer (uterine, cervical)
Women who still wish to have children and have benign tumors or cysts on one or more of their ovaries should seek other methods of treatment before resorting to oophorectomy. Generally, if the cause of ovarian issues is not cancerous, there are some non-surgical alternatives one can pursue before deciding to pursue oophorectomy.
After deciding upon oophorectomy, you should have a pre-operative health/risk assessment. Any blood thinners such as aspirin and other pain relievers should be discontinued 7 days before the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you can, quit smoking, as this will also reduce your risk of excessive bleeding. Review informed consent guidelines with your physician, including ovarian cancer risk, whether to remove the fallopian tubes (salpingectomy) or pursue complete hysterectomy, and sexual function outcomes after surgery.
Your doctor will likely have you stop eating and drinking the night before surgery, and you may need to cleanse your bowels either by drinking a solution or having an enema.
Patients should expect to take pain relievers after the surgery, and may use an IV and a urinary catheter if their procedure requires an extended hospital stay. Patients are encouraged to walk to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs. Women who have an oophorectomy can return home anywhere between a few hours to a few days after, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure and extent of organ removal. It may take up to 2 weeks to return to light desk work for a laparoscopic procedure, while a traditional oophorectomy may take up to 6 weeks.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. A proper assessment of every patient, along with complete lab work, will help to prevent postoperative complications. A postoperative course of antibiotics can reduce the risk of infection. After healing, scars are handled with special treatments to minimize their appearance. Complications specific to oophorectomy include accidental damage to other organs in the pelvic area, and small bowel obstruction. In the case of ovarian cancer, tumor rupture may lead to spread of potentially cancerous cells, or remnants of benign ovary cells may continue to cause signs and symptoms in premenopausal women. However, these risks are relatively rare.
For premenopausal women getting both ovaries removed, the inducing of sudden menopause can lead to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and increased psychological difficulties or emotional trauma. Osteoporosis risk can be reduced with supplemental estrogen treatment. As with naturally occurring menopause, changes in sex drive, hot flashes, and other symptoms of menopause are likely to occur.
$7,000-$20,000 (depending on surgical method, invasiveness, and incidence of cancer)