In fact, the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance just issued a new guideline related to risk reduction. It calls for women who have finished childbearing and are undergoing abdominal surgery anyway to have their fallopian tubes removed at the same time. This is because many ovarian cancers are thought to begin in the fallopian tubes.
Menopausal patients undergoing a hysterectomy may also have an oophorectomy, as there’s no real benefit to retaining the ovaries if you’ve already stopped menstruating.
Is an oophorectomy considered major surgery?
That depends on why and how you’re having it done.
If the ovary is being removed because of a very large tumor, or as part of a debulking procedure to remove as much cancer as possible, then it’s considered major surgery.
But if the ovary can be removed through small incisions using minimally invasive techniques — especially as part of a risk-reduction procedure — then it’s not considered major surgery.
How long does it take to recover from an oophorectomy?
Your recovery depends on the type of surgical incision used and your general health.
With larger incisions, you can expect to be in the hospital for an average of three to five days. With minimally invasive techniques using small incisions, you can typically go home the same day.
It varies quite a bit, though. So, the best way to find out what you can expect is to ask your doctor.
Regardless of the type of surgery you have, you should not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for six weeks, to prevent the development of a hernia.
What are the possible side effects of an oophorectomy?
Again, that depends on many factors, including:
whether you’re already in menopause, and
whether you’re having a unilateral or bilateral procedure.
If you’re already in menopause, side effects related to hormone levels should be minimal. This is because your ovaries have already shut down, so it won’t matter if one or both are removed.
If you haven’t entered menopause yet, you’ll need to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist before the procedure. They can discuss how it might affect you and your reproductive function.
Could I still conceive a child after an oophorectomy? Will I still have menstrual periods?
Again, that depends. If you only have one ovary removed and you still have one functioning ovary left and a uterus, then the answer to both questions is yes. But if both of your ovaries are removed and you’re still of child-bearing age, the answer is no, unless you’re using assisted reproductive techniques. A bilateral oophorectomy causes instant surgical menopause.
What’s the most important thing to know about oophorectomies?
Talk with your doctors, so you’ll understand exactly what the procedure means for you. If you’re not already in menopause, an oophorectomy could bring about many changes. If you are in menopause, you’ll likely see very little impact on your overall well-being.