A woman’s ovaries are clearly important during her childbearing years, creating and delivering eggs to the fallopian tubes and uterus for potential fertilization. The ovaries remain important to a woman’s health for a long life, even if her uterus has been removed with a hysterectomy. McLeod Gynecologist Paul Chandler, MD, explained the ovaries’ importance to a woman.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Chandler’s comments:
The reason we like to leave in the ovaries following a hysterectomy is related to a study that says, if a woman keeps her ovaries, she lives a longer and healthier life.
So, it’s very important. The ovary does a lot for a woman. Not only does it produce estrogen and progesterone, but it also releases testosterone that helps her sex drive.
It’s relatively new information, but we think that certain ovarian cancers actually come from the fallopian tubes and not from the ovaries themselves. They’re called the Serous Ovarian Cancers and they are the cancers that are most deadly.
So many times, when we are doing gynecologic surgery, such as a hysterectomy, we may remove the fallopian tubes but leave the ovaries.
We might decide to remove the ovaries later. If a patient has chronic pain from adhesions (scar tissues) around the ovaries from earlier surgeries, we may need to go back in and remove the ovaries. Occasionally, we will find a tumor on an ovary, and we have to remove the ovary for that reason.
If a woman (even in her late 40s) can retain her ovaries, we will try to leave them in. There is solid data that says death from all causes is less if the ovaries are left in place.
So, bottom line, even though we don’t understand exactly “why,” women need their ovaries.