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Sex After an Oophorectomy: A Complete Guide

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
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Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

An oophorectomy is a vital surgical procedure that helps to treat conditions that affect your ovaries and can put your health at risk. Every year surgeons around the world perform thousands of oophorectomies. In America alone, around 300,000 women have oophorectomies each year.

While having an oophorectomy can improve your quality of life or even save it, there are some side effects. Having sex after an oophorectomy may feel different from before it. You may also find that your sex drive is lower.

So why does this happen and is there anything you can do to boost your sex drive after an oophorectomy? Read on to find out everything you need to know!

What is an oophorectomy?

An oophorectomy is a type of surgical procedure that involves removing one or both of your ovaries. There are two types of oophorectomies:

  • A unilateral oophorectomy (removal of one ovary)
  • A bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries)

The kind of oophorectomy you have mainly depends on why you need it in the first place. This can also affect the severity of any side effects that you experience.

What happens during an oophorectomy?

Oophorectomy is a type of major surgery so it does require an anaesthetic to put you to sleep. On the plus side, this means you don't have to undergo any of the discomforts of being awake during surgery.

There are two ways that a surgeon can perform an oophorectomy.

A laparotomy involves a long incision along your lower abdomen which the surgeon uses to access your ovaries. During this procedure, your surgeon will cut off the blood supply to your ovary and the tissue surrounding it before they remove it.

Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery involves a series of smaller incisions across your abdomen. Your surgeon will then use a tiny camera and small surgical tools to cut off the blood supply to your ovary and place it in a small pouch. They then remove the small pouch and the ovary with it.

Laparoscopic surgery will be quicker to recover from, however, it is not suitable for everyone. In some cases, a surgeon may have to switch to a laparotomy during the surgery itself. Your doctor will recommend the best type of surgery to suit your individual situation.

Why might you need an oophorectomy?

There are many reasons why you might have an oophorectomy. Generally, it is used as a treatment for:

  • Benign tumors or cysts in the ovaries
  • Tubo-ovarian abscesses
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Twisting of the ovaries (also known as ovarian torsion)

If your genetics increase the likelihood of you developing ovarian or breast cancer, your doctor may recommend a preventative oophorectomy. This can happen if you have the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutations. You can get tested for these genes if your family has a history of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

In most cases, doctors will only remove the affected ovary rather than removing both. For example, ovarian torsion is generally isolated to one ovary. So your doctor will only remove the affected ovary.

Other conditions, such as endometriosis and cancer, can spread or may affect both ovaries. In this case, your doctor may recommend the removal of both ovaries.

Effects of an oophorectomy

Your ovaries produce your body's estrogen and progesterone. So when they are removed, your hormone levels can change significantly.

If you haven't already gone through menopause, having both of your ovaries removed can trigger this. If one ovary is removed, your hormone levels will dip but not drop off completely.

In either case, you can experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Menopause and the symptoms that come with this, including vaginal dryness and hot flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Memory problems
  • Osteoporosis

Some women experience symptoms more severely than others after an oophorectomy. Your hormone changes can also have a big impact on your sex drive. Let's take a closer look at having sex after an oophorectomy.

Sex after an oophorectomy

Your libido is an incredibly personal thing can a huge number of factors can affect it. So it makes sense that having surgery on your reproductive organs might can an impact on yours.

If you undergo an oophorectomy along with a hysterectomy then you may find that you enjoy penetrative sex less than you used to. This may be because surgery has altered the position and length of your vagina, although this doesn't always happen.

The majority of women who undergo oophorectomies go on to enjoy a healthy sex life after recovery. However, the removal of one or both ovaries also has an effect on your libido-including hormones.

Estrogen and progesterone increase your libido around the time of ovulation to improve your chances of getting pregnant. As a result, a decrease in their production levels may also lower your libido.

This can be frustrating, particularly as it can feel out of your control. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your sex life after an oophorectomy. These can help to boost your sex drive and improve the quality of sex that you are having.

Orgasms are still on the cards

Let's get one thing straight — having an oophorectomy doesn't make sex worse. It is still possible to orgasm after having an oophorectomy although the way that you achieve this might change.

In particular, your clitoris and G-spot won't be affected by having an oophorectomy. 75% of women only reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation. So if like a lot of women, these are the keys to your kingdom there's nothing to worry about!

You will still be able to enjoy yourself just as much after an oophorectomy.

Give yourself plenty of recovery time

An oophorectomy is a major surgical procedure, so it is perfectly normal not to feel particularly sexy after it. It is important to give yourself time to recover both physically and mentally.

Of course, you should follow any advice from your doctor about sex and other physical activity after surgery. The last thing you want is to rush things and end up doing more damage.

Often, undergoing an oophorectomy, especially a bilateral one, means that you will no longer be able to get pregnant. This can be very difficult to get to grips with.

Any sort of emotional transition can have a big impact on your libido, so it is important to acknowledge this. Addressing how you are feeling in a safe and supportive environment can do wonders for anyone's sex life.

Try new positions

During an oophorectomy, the anatomy of your body changes. You may find that you have scars or that certain sensations now feel different. If you have also had a hysterectomy, the shape of your vagina and cervix may also have changed.

Because of this, you may find that you don't enjoy penetrative sex as much as you used to.

There's nothing wrong with this — our sexual preferences change throughout our lives for a variety of reasons. Embracing this change can make for a fun and empowering experience.

Trying out new positions and sexual experiences is a great way to shift the focus off what isn't working the way that it used to.

In particular, trying out different types of foreplay and stimulation can be great fun after an oophorectomy. This is also a great way to spark your sex drive.

When doing this it's a good idea to start slowly, especially if you have had a break from sexual activity during recovery. Sensate Focus is a great way to reintroduce touch into your relationship without feeling overwhelmed.

Use plenty of lubrication

Changes in your hormone levels may also mean that your body responds differently to sexual contact. For a lot of women, this can result in vaginal dryness, which can make sex quite uncomfortable.

If you are having sex after an oophorectomy, make sure that you use plenty of lubrication. The last thing you want is to get all hot and bothered and end up feeling uncomfortable!

Discuss hormone replacement options

If you have had both of your ovaries removed then your doctor may speak to you about hormone replacements. These can help to delay menopause, particularly in patients who are under the age of 45.

Hormone replacements are basically artificial versions of the hormones that your body would normally produce on its own. Hormone replacements come in various forms, including:

  • Tablets
  • Patches
  • Implants
  • Oestrogen gels

This means that, although your ovaries are no longer producing them, you can still enjoy the benefits of estrogen and progesterone. This can help to boost your body's sex drive and also delays other side effects of menopause, like osteoporosis.

Get support today

As you can see, when it comes to sex after an oophorectomy, it is totally normal to experience a change in your libido.

If you would like more support understanding the changes in your libido and how you can regain your intimate connection on your journey back to sex, check out Blueheart today, for free. Blueheart is a digital sex therapy app that uses a technique called Sensate Focus. Sensate Focus is the most effective technique used by sex therapists all over the world to help people overcome libido problems. Blueheart is the only app that uses Sensate Focus to overcome libido problems. You'll receive the same exercises you'd be given by an in-the-room therapist, but you can do it all from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

If sex therapy as a topic is new to you, have a look at our complete guide to sex therapy.

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