Question

Menopause

What is ovarian ablation?

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  • Ovarian ablation: In pre-menopausal women, removing or shutting down the ovaries, which are the main source of estrogens, effectively makes the woman post-menopausal. This may allow some other hormone therapies to work better.

    Permanent ovarian ablation can be done by surgically removing the ovaries. This operation is called an oophorectomy. More often, ovarian ablation is done with drugs called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs, such as goserelin (Zoladex®) or leuprolide (Lupron®). These drugs stop the signal that the body sends to ovaries to make estrogens. They can be used alone or with tamoxifen as hormone therapy in pre-menopausal women. They are also being studied as adjuvant therapies along with aromatase inhibitors in pre-menopausal women.

    Chemotherapy drugs may also damage the ovaries of pre-menopausal women so they no longer produce estrogen. In some women ovarian function returns months or years later, but in others, the damage to the ovaries is permanent and leads to menopause. This can sometimes be a helpful (if unintended) consequence of chemotherapy with regard to breast cancer treatment, although it leaves the woman infertile.

    All of these methods can cause a woman to have symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
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