Oophorectomy is a procedure wherein one or both ovaries are removed. There are different procedures for how oophorectomy is performed as well as different types of oophorectomy. If needed, you’ll undergo a specific type of oophorectomy based on your doctor’s recommendations.
In most cases, going through an oophorectomy will make menopause start earlier than expected. There are two major types of oophorectomy which are, bilateral and unilateral both of which may affect your fertility and menstrual cycle. Read on to know more about oophorectomy, its types, procedures, and risks. Additionally, you’ll learn if oophorectomy is a good choice for you.
Before deciding on going through Oophorectomy, your doctor will first explain the options and the risk factors involved in such procedures. You may also undergo a series of tests such as:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Physical exam
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
What are the Types?
There are 2 major types of Oophorectomy which are:
- Bilateral Oophorectomy - This refers to the removal of both ovaries.
- Unilateral Oophorectomy - This refers to the removal of only 1 ovary.
Aside from the 2 mentioned, there are other specific types of Oophorectomy which are:
- Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy - This refers to the removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Salpingo-Oophorectomy - This refers to the removal of 1 ovary and 1 fallopian tube on the same side.
- Hysterectomy with Salpingo-Oophorectomy - This type refers to the removal of the uterus together with the removal of 1 ovary and 1 fallopian tube.
- Total Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oopheroctomy - From the term itself, it is the total removal of the reproductive organs: the uterus, cervix, both ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Reasons Why Oophorectomy is Performed
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend you to go through an Oophorectomy. Some reasons include:
- Ovarian cancer - This condition refers to the growth of tumor/s inside the ovaries and may spread to other parts or organs.
- Endometriosis - This refers to the condition when the cells/tissues inside your uterus grow outside the uterus causing discomfort and pain.
- Benign cysts - Though non-cancerous, doctors recommend removing these to lower the risk of them developing into cancer.
- Ovarian torsion - This is a condition when the ovary or fallopian tube twists on the tissues surrounding them cutting off the proper blood supply. If you experience symptoms of ovarian torsion, call for help immediately.
- Gene mutations - Specifically known as BRCA gene mutations. These mutations may cause breast or ovarian cancer if not treated immediately.
- High risk of ovarian or breast cancer - Women who have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer usually go through an Oophorectomy.
- Tubo-ovarian abscess or Pelvic inflammatory disease - This condition refers to the inflammation or infection of the ovaries and their surrounding areas.
How Oophorectomy is Performed
Once you and your doctor have discussed what type of Oophorectomy you should undergo, the next thing to do is to decide how it is performed. There are different ways to remove your ovaries. The options include:
- Vaginal - This is a non-invasive approach to Ophorectomy as it does not require incisions. Instead, the organs are removed through the vagina. This procedure is usually done for total Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy.
- Laparoscopic approach - This is another less invasive procedure wherein the surgeon uses a special camera to look into your reproductive organs. Though it involves small incisions, usually about 1-2 centimeters, it is a safer way to remove your ovaries, and it has a faster recovery period than Laparotomy.
- Laparotomy - In this kind of procedure, the surgeon will cut a larger incision in your abdomen. Since the operation involves a large incision, it might take a longer period of recovery compared to other Oophorectomy procedures.
Risks Involve in Oophorectomy
Though Oophorectomy is known to be a very safe procedure, some risk factors should be kept in mind before going through it. These include:
- Bleeding after operation
- Organ damage
- Blood clots
- Rupture of a tumor, causing cancer cells to spread
- Ovarian remnant syndrome
- Inability or difficulty to get pregnant
Menopause After Oophorectomy
After going through Oophorectomy, your body will go through various changes. If you have undergone a bilateral type of Oophorectomy, expect that your menopause will begin right away and you’ll experience common menopausal symptoms such as:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Weight gain/metabolism changes
- Hair loss/thinning
- Breast changes
- Chills/night sweating
Also, since both ovaries are removed, abrupt changes in the production of certain hormones can cause other complications such as:
- Memory problems
- A decrease in one’s sex drive
- Heart diseases
Recovery Period After Oophorectomy
The duration of recovery may vary from person to person. It may also depend on how the surgery was performed. For people who have undergone a vaginal approach, doctors may allow them to leave the hospital the same day, however, for some procedures like laparotomy, you might be required to stay for a few days or a week in the hospital.
Your doctor may also recommend you practice the following during your recovery period:
- Avoid rigorous exercise
- Avoid lifting
- Avoid sexual intercourse
- Avoid driving (as much as possible)
- Avoid baths, take showers instead
- Avoid using tampons, use sanitary pads instead
- Take medications as prescribed
- Keep incisions clean
- Ask for help from loved ones if needed
Frequently Asked Questions
Most women who have undergone Oophorectomy ask if they are still able to get pregnant. If you have undergone the unilateral type of oophorectomy, you’ll still be able to have a normal and healthy pregnancy so long as the other ovary is functioning normally. In some cases though, you might need to get fertility support like IVF.
Another option would be through egg freezing or egg donor, options which are suitable for women who got both ovaries removed. Learn more about this through this link.
Women who had unilateral Oophorectomy are the only ones who still have their monthly cycle. Women who got both ovaries removed, on the other hand, will no longer have a monthly cycle, but instead, menopause will begin shortly after the operation.
If you notice any of the following signs after surgery, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
• Incisions are swelling
Can I still get pregnant after Oophorectomy? Most women who have undergone Oophorectomy ask if they are still able to get pregnant. If you have undergone the unilateral type of oophorectomy, you’ll still be able to have a normal and healthy pregnancy so long as the other ovary is functioning normally. In some cases though, you might need to get fertility support like IVF.
Another option would be through egg freezing or egg donor, options which are suitable for women who got both ovaries removed.
Can I still get my period after Oophorectomy? Women who had unilateral Oophorectomy are the only ones who still have their monthly cycle. Women who got both ovaries removed, on the other hand, will no longer have a monthly cycle, but instead, menopause will begin shortly after the operation.
What signs to watch out for after Oophorectomy? If you notice any of the following signs after surgery, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
• Incisions are swelling
• Leaking of pus from incisions
• Swelling and pain in the legs/blood clots
• Persistent pain in the pelvic area
• Nausea with or without vomiting
• Pain during urinating
• Foul-smelling vaginal discharge