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What to expect after ovary removal?

Ovary removal, also known as an oophorectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove one or both ovaries. It is usually done to treat ovarian cancer, severe endometriosis, cysts or tumors in the ovaries. Ovary removal can be partial (removing just a part of the ovary) or complete (removing the entire ovary). It can be done through an abdominal incision or laparoscopically through small incisions.

After ovary removal, women experience surgical menopause since the ovaries are the main source of estrogen and progesterone. This results in symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, mood changes, etc. The severity of symptoms depends on age at surgery, whether both or one ovary was removed, and if you take hormone replacement therapy. Let’s look at some key things to expect after ovary removal surgery:

Menopausal Symptoms

Since the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, ovary removal brings on sudden surgical menopause. This causes various symptoms associated with low hormone levels like:

– Hot flashes – Sensation of intense heat in the upper body, often with sweating and reddening of skin. Can occur several times a day.

– Night sweats – Episodes of severe sweating at nighttime. Can cause sleep disturbances.

– Vaginal dryness and pain – Low estrogen causes thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue. This can make intercourse painful.

– Decreased libido – Lack of estrogen leads to reduced sex drive in most women after ovary removal.

– Mood changes – Fluctuating hormone levels can cause anxiety, irritability, depression etc.

– Difficulty concentrating, memory problems

– Weight gain – Linked to metabolic changes and redistribution of weight after menopause.

– Hair thinning/loss – Estrogen helps keep hair follicles healthy. Low levels leads to thinning of hair on the head but increased facial/body hair.

– Fatigue – Can be exacerbated by sleep disruptions from night sweats/hot flashes.

Bone Loss

Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining healthy bone density. Post ovary removal, lack of estrogen accelerates bone loss leading to osteoporosis. This can increase risk of fractures later in life. Get a bone density scan to establish a baseline. Your doctor may prescribe supplements like calcium, vitamin D and drugs like bisphosphonates to improve bone strength.

Cardiovascular Changes

Surgical menopause increases certain cardiovascular risks. Declining estrogen levels are associated with changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and vessel function. This may raise chances of developing hypertension, heart disease or stroke over time. Discuss with your doctor about lifestyle changes and medications if needed, to reduce cardiovascular risks.

Bladder Control Issues

Estrogen helps maintain tone and function of tissues like those supporting the bladder and urethra. After ovary removal, weakening of this pelvic support can lead to urinary incontinence/leakage especially when coughing, laughing or exercising. Performing kegel exercises helps strengthen pelvic floor muscles and improve control.

Time after Surgery Menopausal Symptoms
Within 1-2 weeks Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness start and progressively increase over the next few weeks.
2-3 months Symptoms tend to peak around this time frame.
6-12 months Body adjusts to hormone changes so symptoms stabilize but don’t necessarily disappear.

Coping with Menopausal Symptoms

Here are some ways to manage common symptoms after ovary removal:

Hot Flashes

– Layer clothing so it can be removed as needed

– Use fans, air conditioning to stay cool

– Avoid triggers like spicy food, alcohol, stress, tight clothing

– Practice relaxation techniques like paced breathing

– Consider trying sage, vitamin E or soy supplements

Vaginal Dryness

– Use vaginal lubricants or moisturizers

– Engage more in foreplay for increased arousal

– Discuss localized estrogen creams/tablets with your doctor

Mood Changes

– Regular exercise boosts endorphins and relieves stress

– Practice mindfulness through yoga, meditation etc.

– Try cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy

– Communicate feelings with partner, friends and join support groups


– Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule

– Limit caffeine intake in the evenings

– Create an optimal sleep environment that is cool, dark and comfortable

– Ask your doctor about short-term sleep aids if needed

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Taking estrogen and progesterone supplements helps reduce menopausal symptoms and prevent bone loss after ovary removal. This is called hormone replacement therapy or HRT. It replenishes hormones your body is no longer making and can:

– Reduce severity of hot flashes, night sweats

– Improve vaginal dryness and bladder control

– Stabilize mood, energy levels

– Preserve bone mineral density

Discuss benefits and risks of HRT with your doctor to decide if it is appropriate for you. HRT is usually taken until the typical age of menopause around 50 years. The dose can be adjusted over time. Localized vaginal estrogen is an option if you only want relief from urogenital symptoms.

Types of HRT

HRT consists of estrogen with or without progestin. Estrogen-only HRT is used if you’ve had a hysterectomy. If you still have your uterus, progestin is given to prevent any overgrowth of the uterine lining which can increase cancer risk.

Systemic HRT includes:

– Estrogen pills, patches, gels, sprays, rings

– Progestin pills, IUD

For vaginal symptoms:

– Estrogen creams, tablets or ring inserted into the vagina

The benefits and risks of HRT vary for each woman based on her health history and should be carefully reviewed with your doctor.

Long-Term Health Impact

Let’s look at how ovary removal can affect long-term health:

Bone Loss

Rapid bone density loss occurs in the first 2-5 years after ovary removal due to estrogen deficiency. This persists into the postmenopausal years increasing fracture risk. HRT helps preserve bone strength. Monitoring with frequent bone density scans and taking calcium/vitamin D supplements is important.

Heart Disease

Surgical menopause may raise the risk of developing heart disease. HRT might reduce this risk when taken in early menopause before age 60. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle – not smoking, regular exercise, maintaining healthy weight and diet helps lower cardiac risks.

Neurological Health

Research shows estrogen might have neuroprotective benefits and preserve cognitive function. Premature loss of estrogen from ovary removal before natural menopause may impair short-term memory, learning, focus etc. The risk increases further as women age. HRT might help sustain neurological health when initiated early.


Some studies indicate younger women who undergo ovary removal may have a higher mortality risk. Much of this is linked to increased cardiovascular disease. Women who have both ovaries removed and do not take HRT have greater mortality than those who take replacement hormones till at least age 45.

Recovery After Surgery

Here’s what to expect in the recovery period immediately after ovary removal:


You will have some abdominal pain for a week after surgery which is managed with pain medications. Don’t lift heavy objects for about 6 weeks to allow complete healing. Feelings of bloating, soreness and fatigue are common.

Incision Care

Keep any abdominal incisions clean and dry to prevent infection. Avoid scrubbing. Vaginal bleeding can occur after vaginal removal and resolves in a week or so. Use sanitary pads and avoid tampons till discharge stops.


Eat light, nutritious food and stay hydrated. Avoid heavy meals initially which can cause discomfort. Manage constipation with fiber-rich foods and stool softeners.


It takes about 6-8 weeks to return to normal activity. Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting. Walk around every few hours to prevent blood clots. Limit use of stairs initially. Resume driving when pain meds are stopped and you can react quickly.

Call your doctor if you have a fever over 100.4°F, heavy bleeding, pus or redness at incision sites, trouble urinating, vomiting, severe pain etc.

Emotional Health After Ovary Removal

Here are some coping tips to help preserve emotional well-being after ovary removal surgery:

Allow Time to Heal

Be patient with yourself through the recovery process. Healing takes time so don’t rush back to all your regular tasks. Accept help from loved ones when needed.

Express Your Feelings

Communicate openly with your partner and loved ones about any fears, frustrations, grief or sadness you feel regarding the hysterectomy. Join in-person or online support groups to connect with other women who’ve had ovary removal.

Stay Active

Once approved by your doctor, engage in light exercise that makes you feel empowered. Even short daily walks can lift your mood through release of endorphins.

Reduce Stress

Try stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness. Make time for hobbies, social activities and relationships that enrich your life.

Intimacy and Relationships

Reconnect intimately with your partner through open communication and activities like cuddling, massages etc. Allow some time before resuming intercourse based on how you feel physically and emotionally. Discuss concerns with your partner.


Ovary removal is a major surgery with lifelong impact on health. Sudden loss of ovarian hormones leads to surgical menopause which must be properly managed, usually with HRT. While the procedure serves necessary medical purposes, it entails physical challenges in the recovery period as well as emotional adaptation. Proper preparation and support can help women cope well and adjust to new realities after ovary removal. Monitor your health diligently, speak to your doctor about any concerns and adopt healthy lifestyle measures to thrive despite the absence of your ovaries.