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What Happens to the Ovaries during a Partial Hysterectomy?

hysterectomy-ovaries-left-behindLet’s talk a little bit about what happens to the ovaries when we take out just the uterus during a partial hysterectomy.  As we know, in order for an organ in our body to function, it needs a blood supply.  The ovary gets its blood supply from its connection to the uterus and its connection to the rest of the body through one major artery and bunch of little blood vessels (check out this link to a really great detailed image).  The ovarian artery is the biggest source of blood to and from the ovary; and it connects on one side to the uterus and on the other side to an even larger artery in the body.  So, what happens when you take the uterus out?  What happens to the artery?

When you remove the uterus and leave the ovaries in place during a partial hysterectomy, you are severing their major source of blood.  As a result, the ovaries are more likely to malfunction or shut down all together.   As you can see in this blog’s photo, the major connecting piece is missing.  But, since every woman is different, there is no saying for sure what will happen and in what amount of time.  Sometimes the shock of surgery is enough to essentially shut down ovary function; sometimes they might partially recover but might never work the same again.  Sometimes the ovaries seem like they’re doing okay, but within a few years they will stop working.  As this happens, hormone output will be inconsistent and she will begin to start feeling symptoms of menopause.

I encourage my patients to have their ovaries taken out at the time of surgery and start hormones immediately afterward.

Posted in Hysterectomy, Procedures, Surgery

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