While ovarian risk reduction surgery is effective at reducing a woman’s chances of developing ovarian and even breast cancer, there are risks involved that should be kept in mind. For instance, when a premenopausal woman’s ovaries are removed, her level of estrogen drops rapidly, not gradually, as it would if her menopause occurred naturally.
Common side effects of this sudden drop in estrogen include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and irritation
- Lowered sex drive
Other side effects can include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Chest pain and/or heart palpitations
- Muscle spasms
- Urinary incontinence
- Anxiety, depression and mood swings
The loss of estrogen has also been linked to an increased chance of developing osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. Also, doctors are not yet sure how lower estrogen levels affect heart health, mental functioning and memory.
Women who have gone through menopause before undergoing ovarian risk reduction surgery tend to have an easier time adjusting physically and mentally to losing their ovaries, as their ovaries have already stopped producing their normal level of estrogen (though they still continue to produce some estrogen and other hormones even after menopause).