No ovaries, now what?
January 14, 2008 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I recently had an operation to remove my remaining ovary. I just turned 40 and am now on hormones. What should I expect?

About 7 years ago, I had surgery to remove a twisted ovary. This past week, I had the same procedure to remove the other one. Now that I am ovary-less, the doc put me on hormones and I'm wondering what will happen.

Some background: I've never had any PMS issues; in fact, I didn't have a cramp until my 30s and thought other women were making stuff up or being dramatic about weight gain, mood swings, etc. (Sorry, ladies, I had no frame of reference.) My periods have been like clockwork, 28 days apart every month. I have heard that women who don't have PMS have an easier menopause (hoping this is more than wishful thinking).

My questions: will I immediately start looking old? (I know this is superficial but, hey, that's why I'm posting anonymously.) Or maybe better since I've only had one ovary/half the hormones for a while? What about hot flashes? Other menopausey things I need to know? Sex? Bones? If I get symptoms, how long will they take to manifest? I've been on the estrogen for a week now and don't feel a bit different.

FWIW, I never planned to have kids so I'm OK with that aspect. If I ever get the itch, I'll adopt one of the many who are waiting. I bring this up to avoid any consoling comments on not being able to conceive.

I know that YANAD and YANMD. I'm interested in hearing personal stories from women who have had the same experience. If you'd like to respond privately, email Thanks for your help.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't had my ovaries removed, but breast cancer treatment put me into premature "chemopause" in my early 40's. I'm not on hormones because the cancer precludes that, but here's some early-menopause advice:

Check out the HysterSisters website. There are tons of women who have been through the same thing and can offer advice.

Be sure and take plenty of calcium and Vitamin D (in foods and supplements), and do weight-bearing exercise (walking, running, lifting weights) to keep your bones strong. My own doc told me that this is especially urgent for women going into premature menopause, to prevent osteoporosis.

My very cool gynecologist gave me invaluable advice - if you have a sex partner(s), have lots and lots of sex to keep your girl parts in good shape - "vaginas need exercise too!" she said. If you don't have a partner, then hie thee to a place like Good Vibrations or Toys in Babeland and get a vibrator or two. Vaginal atrophy is an embarrassing and not-often-discussed complication of menopause. Use it or lose it.

If you are on hormones, be VERY sure to get regular mammograms and perform breast self-exams. I don't mean to scare you, but hormone replacement does up the risk for breast cancer.

I don't look any older than I have before. However, I have noticed a tendency to put on weight around my middle (instead of my hips as I did before my chemopause).

Hope this helps at least a little.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2008

i had my ovaries out several years ago because they had gone feral, but i'm not on any hormone treatments. i seem to have avoided nearly all menopause symptoms. mostly my skin is more sensitive and i have to use more moisturizer and occasionally some claritin if i'm feeling very itchy.

i've noticed a bit less vaginal lubrication, but orgasm is still, you know, orgasm-y. if you haven't used lube during sex (with a partner or yourself) before, you might want to pick up a sample pack from good vibes or toys in babeland or blowfish and see if you can find one you like.

i don't think i've gotten unusually older looking and a spot-check with folks around me indicates that either i'm right or my friends are all lying to me. :)

good luck with recovery and menopause.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:01 AM on January 14, 2008

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