What Should You Know Before Deciding to Remove Your Ovaries?

Removing your ovaries can be a tough decision, and one thing is for sure: health comes first. If you are ever at risk, it is fundamental to always put yourself first.
What Should You Know Before Deciding to Remove Your Ovaries?

Last update: 12 June, 2020

In the present article we’re going to show you what you should know before deciding whether if you want to remove your ovaries. There are many different reasons why women choose to do it.

Years before menopause, some women begin to have a very severe bleeding of the vagina, often unforeseeable. This bleeding can be due to hormonal alterations, ovarian cysts, or by fibroids in the uterus.

The ovaries can develop tumors with greater frequency than other organs, and therefore, some specialists recommend surgically removing them at the age of menopause. In rare cases, this is advised for much younger women too.

It’s not a hysterectomy

Woman in an Ob-Gyn appointment

This point is very important, because many people think that a hysterectomy means to remove your ovaries, and that’s false.

The surgery you get to remove one or both of your ovaries is called oophorectomy, unilateral and bilateral, respectively.

That is to say, you have the option of removing your ovaries and leaving the other reproductive organs intact.

In certain cases, this surgery can be suggested with the goal of eliminating a source of hormone production that’s aggravating the evolution of a mammary tumor.

Ovary removal surgery causes the onset of menopause

This means that the woman can no longer get pregnant naturally because she ceases to produce ovules.

However, if you want to get pregnant after having your ovaries removed, you should consult with a fertility specialist.

Some techniques exist, such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, that increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

On the other hand, you should keep in mind that you will experience some or all the effects of menopause:

  • Hot flashes
  • Changes in sleep or mood
  • Night sweats
  • Decrease in sexual desire

If you don’t wish to speed up the onset of menopause, ask your doctor for available alternatives for whatever problem you have.

The surgery can be less complicated than it appears

Many women fear this surgery because they believe it involves a large cut and scarring. However, you should know that there is a less invasive way of taking out the ovaries: a laparoscopic route.

This involves inserting a small camera through a tiny incision made in the navel. The camera helps guide the extraction of the organs.

This operation decreases the risk of complications and blood loss. You will spend less time in the hospital compared to an open surgery.

A laparoscopy also has a better cosmetic effect, while other operations leave scars very similar to those resulting from C-sections.

Your medical specialist will be the one who weighs what surgical option is right for you. Some women must undergo open surgery.

You can replace hormones if you so desire… but there are risks

Hormone tablets

Nowadays, there is a lot of disagreement concerning the risks involved in replacing the hormones you lose when you remove your ovaries.

Some gynecologists recommend this step because you’re going to develop symptoms like hot flashes, stress and sweating. Even so, the risks implied create a certain reluctance.

The progesterone used in this treatment can protect you against endometrial cancer, which has also been connected to the development of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor and decide your priorities together.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, perhaps you should choose other treatments.

If you remove your ovaries, it increases the risk of heart disease

Measuring blood pressure

This procedure should not be done indiscriminately. The lack of hormones reverberates dramatically in women’s organs, especially in those at peak reproductive age.

A study done in the United States indicated that the number of women with healthy ovaries that receive this operation is about 300,000. Even though the risk of ovarian cancer diminishes, the risk of heart disease increases.

The most important thing in these cases is to always have preventive care. It would be ideal to visit a doctor at least once every six months to verify that everything is OK with your organs.

If ultimately you decide to remove your ovaries, it’s important that you follow all the steps and don’t miss any appointments with the gynecologist.

Risk of bone loss

Women who remove their ovaries have a greater risk of bone loss.

In a study done in 2014, scientists analyzed 222 healthy women after menopause.

Those who were at least 10 years into maturity had a rate of bone mineral density loss two times greater that those who had taken out their ovaries before menopause and of those who still had theirs.

Women without ovaries have a higher risk of suffering osteoporosis.

Don’t take the decision lightly

Diseases that attack the ovaries are many times silent. Because of their location in the body, it can be difficult to perform tests. It is common that, by the time you discover some alteration in your body, you find yourself already in an advanced state.

If you find yourself in a dilemma and you’re unsure about removing your ovaries, don’t worry. Review these curiosities and you will see that, if you do decide to remove them, you will be adding to your quality of life.

If you aren’t completely sure, the best thing to do is to refer to a medical specialist’s opinion.

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  • Sara J. Mucowski, Wendy J. Mack, Donna Shoupe, Naoko Kono, Richard Paulson, Howard N. Hodis. The Effect of Prior Oophorectomy on Changes in Bone Mineral Density and Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness in Postmenopausal Women. (2014).