In the case of humans, oophorectomies are most often performed due to diseases such as ovarian cysts or cancer; prophylactically to reduce the chances of developing ovarian cancer or breast cancer; or in conjunction with removal of the uterus.
The removal of an ovary together with a Fallopian tube is called salpingo-oophorectomy or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy if both ovaries and tubes are removed. Oophorectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy are not common forms of birth control in humans; more usual is tubal ligation, in which the Fallopian tubes are blocked but the ovaries remain intact. In many cases, surgical removal of the ovaries is performed concurrently with a hysterectomy. The surgery is then called "ovariohysterectomy" casually or "total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy" (sometimes abbreviated TAH-BSO), the more correct medical term. However, the term "hysterectomy" is often used colloquially yet incorrectly to refer to removal of any parts of the female reproductive system, including just the ovaries.
Women with a risk of breast cancer, especially those women with mutated BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes, have been shown to have a significantly reduced risk of developing breast cancer after prophylactic oophorectomy. In addition, removal of the uterus in conjunction with prophylactic oophorectomy allows estrogen-based HRT to be prescribed to aid the woman through her transition into surgical menopause, instead of mixed hormone HRT, which has a significant contribution to breast cancer as well.
Ovarian cyst removal not involving total oophorectomy is often used to treat milder cases of endometriosis when non-surgical hormonal treatments fail to stop cyst formation. Removal of ovarian cysts through partial oophorectomy is also used to treat extreme pelvic pain from chronic hormonal-related pelvic problems.
Women who have had bilateral oophorectomy surgeries lose most of their ability to produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and lose about half of their ability to produce testosterone, and subsequently enter what is known as "surgical menopause" (as opposed to normal menopause, which occurs naturally in women as part of the aging process). "Surgical menopause" differs from naturally occurring menopause in several respects: Surgical menopause is the result of surgery, while menopause is a natural event. A menopausal woman has intact functional female organs, a woman with surgical menopause does not. In natural menopause the ovaries generally continue to produce low levels of hormones, while in surgical menopause the ovaries and their hormones are absent, which can explain why surgical menopause is generally accompanied by a more sudden and severe onset of symptoms than natural menopause, symptoms which may continue until natural age of menopause arrives . These symptoms are commonly addressed through hormone therapy, utilizing various forms of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone or a combination of them.
When the ovaries are removed a woman is at a seven times greater risk of cardiovascular disease, but the mechanisms are not precisely known. The hormones produced by the ovaries cannot be truly replaced. The ovaries produce hormones a woman needs throughout her entire life, in the quantity they are needed, at the time they are needed, and released directly into the blood stream in a continuous fashion, in response to and as part of the complex endocrine system.
In women under the age of 50 who have undergone oophorectomy, hormone supplements (usually estrogen) are often prescribed as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to offset the negative effects of sudden hormonal loss (most notably an increased risk for early-onset osteoporosis) as well as menopausal problems like hot flushes (also called "hot flashes") that are usually more severe than those experienced by women undergoing natural menopause.
Some studies have found that increased bone loss or fracture risk is associated with oophorectomy. ... Reduced levels of testosterone in women is predictive of height loss, which may occur as a result of reduced bone density,.
Oophorectomy very rarely impacts sexuality in women, it does not greatly reduce or eliminate the ability to have an orgasm, however occasionally there is a lowering of sexual desire. This reduction is greater than that seen in women undergoing natural menopause . Some of these problems can be addressed by taking hormone replacement. Increased testosterone levels in women are associated with a greater sense of sexual desire, and oophorectomy greatly reduces testosterone levels. . Reduction in sexual wellbeing was reported in women who had been given a hysterectomy with both ovaries removed..