Many women have had their ovaries removed for non-cancerous reasons. The procedure is called an oophorectomy and commonly occurs with a hysterectomy. Once the ovaries are removed, a huge portion of hormone production comes to a screeching halt.
A recent study in the 2009 May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology examined the long term consequences of an oophorectomy of both ovaries and cancer risk.
The great news is that your risk for breast and ovarian cancer goes down. The not-so-great news is that your risk for all-cause mortality, such as coronary heart disease and lung cancer, increases.
"Bilateral oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease is commonly practiced to prevent subsequent development of ovarian cancer," writes William H. Parker, M.D., from the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, California, and colleagues.
"Oophorectomy before menopause leads to an abrupt reduction in endogenous estrogen and androgen production....Later age of menopause has been associated with a reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease and stroke, and studies show that preserving ovarian function is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease."
Before having your ovaries removed for non-cancerous reasons, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits especially if you have the opportunity to keep them during your hysterectomy.