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Oophorectomy: What you should know?

As you know, ovary is one of major organs of female reproductive system. It is an almond-shaped ductless gland that produces female reproductive cells and is located at both sides of the uterus. The ovaries are responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle as well.

Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure through which one or both of the ovaries are removed. When one ovary is removed, it is called unilateral oophorectomy. Bilateral oophorectomy is the surgical procedure through which both of the ovaries are removed.

Why is oophorectomy advised?

Oophorectomy is advised for a number of gynaecological illness and conditions. It includes:

  • Cancer in the ovaries
  • Ovarian cysts or tumours of non-cancerous nature
  • Ovarian torsion or twisting of an ovary
  • Endometriosis
  • To reduce risk of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases

Oophorectomy can be done as a part of a Hysterectomy also. In some patients oophorectomy is combined with the surgical removal of fallopian tubes. It is called as salpingo-oophorectomy and is commonly done in women who are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

How is oophorectomy performed?

The patient will be given anaesthesia during the procedure. Oophorectomy can be done through an open surgery or a Laparoscopic Surgery. In the open surgery, an incision is made in the abdomen through which the surgeon separates the tissues and blood vessels surrounding the ovary and removes it.

In laparoscopic oophorectomy, the procedure involves making three or four tiny incisions in the abdominal area. The surgeon inserts a tube with a tiny camera through one of the incisions. The other incisions are used to insert surgical tools. With the help of a monitoring screen, the surgeon will separate the tissues connecting to the ovary. The ovary is then put into a small pouch and taken out through one of the incisions.

In both the cases of oophorectomy, the procedure is less painful and the recovery will be fast if there are no other complications involved.

Risks involved in oophorectomy

Oophorectomy is comparatively a safe procedure and direct risks are very rare throughout the procedure. However, every surgical procedure has some sort of risk associated with it. The complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Damage to the nearby organs
  • Injury to the ureter at the suspensory ligament of the ovary
  • Small bowel obstructions
  • Reaction to anaesthesia
  • Psychological distress or depression
  • Infection
  • A change in sexual drive
  • Clotting in the veins of legs

In patients with obesity, serious pelvic infection, history of pelvic surgery, smoking etc, there is a risk of higher complications.

Menopausal symptoms

Bilateral oophorectomy is same as surgical menopause as both the ovaries are removed. It leads to sudden stop in the natural production of female hormones and causes infertility in women. There may be sudden mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness etc due to the sudden menopause. Moreover, the risk of osteoporosis is higher in woman after oophorectomy. You can talk to your doctor about the symptoms and take necessary steps to bring down the complications.