Sexual Health Q&A
Why might a woman have her ovaries removed?
A woman’s ovaries play an important role in her sexual health. They produce the hormone estrogen, which helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It also helps a woman’s body prepare for sex.
Sometimes, one or both ovaries need to be removed because of a medical condition, such as:
• Ovarian cancer. Cancer cells may be removed through surgery.
• Cysts. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on one or both ovaries. They are usually not cancerous, but they can be painful. They may also rupture.
• Endometriosis. This condition causes uterine tissue to grow outside of the uterus. Tissue might be found on several areas of the pelvis, including the ovaries.
• Ovarian torsion. Sometimes, an ovary can become twisted. (This can be a complication or ovarian cysts.) When this happens, the blood supply to the ovary is blocked.
• Tubo-ovarian abscess. If a woman has an infection in one of her fallopian tubes (the tubes that connect the ovaries and the uterus), a sac of pus called a tubo-ovarian abscess might develop.
The surgical procedure to remove one or both ovaries is called a oophorectomy. If only one ovary is removed, the term unilateral oophorectomy is used. If both ovaries are removed, it is called a bilateral oophorectomy.
Sometimes, the fallopian tubes are removed along with the ovaries. In this case, the procedure is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.
Surgery might be conducted as a preventative measure as well. Some women have a genetic mutation that raises their risk for ovarian or breast cancer. For this reason, they may choose to have risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy.
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