Definition - What does Oophorectomy mean?

Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of one or both ovaries. This procedure may be completed to treat or prevent disease. However, the removal of one or both ovaries limits or eliminates a woman’s future fertility potential.

Removal of one ovary is called a unilateral oophorectomy; removal of two ovaries is a bilateral oophorectomy.

Oophorectomy may also be know as an ovariectomy.

FertilitySmarts explains Oophorectomy

The ovaries are are a pair of primary sex organs in the female body. Responsible for the production of sex hormones and eggs, the ovaries are vital to female fertility and control the menstrual cycle.

There are several reasons why women have oophorectomies. However, due to the severity of the procedure and the consequence towards fertility, the treatment is typically reserved for severe cases without other treatment options. These conditions include:

  • Inherited disease. Women with an increased genetic risk for developing ovarian cancers may elect to have the surgery.
  • Breast cancer. Removing the ovaries reduces the amount of hormones in the body that may impact or worsen breast cancer.
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian torsion
  • Abscess, non-cancerous tumors, or cysts
  • Ovarian cancer

An oophorectomy may be completed alongside additional procedures. In postmenopausal women, an oophorectomy may be completed with a uterus removal (hysterectomy). In women with an increased risk of cancer, the surgery may be completed with a fallopian tube removal (salpingectomy).

Removal of the ovaries, and eliminating the source of a woman’s sex hormones, induces the onset of menopause. Common side effects of menopause may cause discomfort or disrupt daily life, requiring hormone replacement therapy.

An oophorectomy is a major operation that may require an extended hospital stay and a substancial period of recovery.

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