Prophylactic oophorectomy in premenopausal women and long-term health

Menopause Int. 2008 Sep;14(3):111-6. doi: 10.1258/mi.2008.008016.


Objective: To review the data on long-term outcomes in women who underwent prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy, a common surgical procedure that has more than doubled in frequency since the 1960s.

Study design: Literature review of the published data on the consequences of prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy. Special emphasis was given to the Mayo Clinic Cohort Study of Oophorectomy and Aging. Main outcome measures Overall mortality, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and dementia, parkinsonism, osteoporosis, psychological wellbeing and sexual function.

Results: There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the premature loss of ovarian function caused by bilateral oophorectomy performed before natural menopause is associated with several negative outcomes. In particular, studies have revealed an increased risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment or dementia, parkinsonism, osteoporosis and bone fractures, decline in psychological wellbeing and decline in sexual function. The effects involve different organs (e.g. heart, bone, or brain), and different functions within organs (e.g. cognitive, motor, or emotional brain functions). Estrogen treatment may prevent some but not all of these negative outcomes.

Conclusion: The potential adverse effects of prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy on heart health, neurological health, bone health and quality of life should be carefully weighed against its potential benefits for cancer risk reduction in women at average risk of ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Causality
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Menopause, Premature*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / etiology
  • Ovariectomy / adverse effects*
  • Ovariectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / epidemiology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / etiology
  • Premenopause*
  • Risk Factors
  • Women's Health*