An oophorectomy is the name for the surgical removal of an ovary. (If only one ovary is removed, it is called a unilateral oophorectomy. If both ovaries are removed, it is called a bilateral oophorectomy.) A unilateral oophorectomy is needed when an ovary becomes compromised. This could b due to cysts, cancer, or endometriosis, or if it is severely adhered to another organ and cannot be successfully freed. An oophorectomy, however, is not needed to treat the natural process of menopause.
After a unilateral oophorectomy, you will need to prepare for possible changes in your estrogen levels. Because ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen, having one removed will lower the amount your body makes by half. Sometimes it is possible for the remaining ovary to “work overtime” and compensate for the estrogen loss; it is even possible for the remaining ovary to begin to release an egg every month (usually the ovaries take turns releasing the egg). Unfortunately, it is more likely that a drop in estrogen will occur, and you may begin to experience mild menopausal symptoms like mood changes, irritability, sadness, change in libido, or hot flashes.
Before the oophorectomy takes place, Dr. Davis will prescribe a natural form of estrogen for you to take immediately following the surgery. After some time has passed, you may find that you no longer need the extra estrogen; however having the extra estrogen in your system will help your body adjust to the ovary loss and will lead to a much more balanced emotional recovery.