Ovary Preservation: A Practice in Preserving Your Future
Nov 29, 2016
On each side of a female’s uterus are two ovaries. Though small in size, they play an important role. Ovaries are where eggs develop and mature and where female hormones are made. Each month during a female’s childbearing years, an egg is released and, if fertilized, can grow and eventually develop into a baby. Ovaries are a significant factor in a female’s general and reproductive health.
Unfortunately, there are conditions that can threaten ovarian health:
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs. Cysts are common, often benign, and most of the time they present little to no cause for concern.
Ovarian torsion is the twisting of an ovary which may cause it to move and/or cut off the blood supply. This can sometimes be caused by a cyst, but it can also happen to normal ovaries.
Ovarian rupture is a cyst that ruptures and may cause severe pain or lead to internal bleeding.
Ovarian cancer is when cells grow out of control in an ovary or ovaries and threaten the health of a female’s reproductive system and/or life.
Many times there are no symptoms present, but ruptured cysts and torsions may yield symptoms such as:
Swelling or pain in the lower abdomen
Nausea or vomiting
These symptoms are cause for concern and should be evaluated immediately.
Ovarian surgery is not always necessary and preventing surgery is actually the first step in protecting the ovaries. If surgery is needed, it is very rarely due to cancer and there may be ways to keep the ovaries intact through ovarian sparing or the minimally-invasive removal of a cyst through a procedure called a cystectomy.
It is important to review each patient, collaboratively, with other departments who may be able to assist with outcomes. These measures, or what we call an algorithm, provide heightened opportunities for saving and preserving ovaries, rather than removing them.
Outcomesprove that ovarian preservation is higher in institutions with a gynecology department. Nationwide Children’s multi-team algorithm helps us work together to minimize unnecessary surgery on ovarian cysts as well as make sure the correct surgery is done to spare ovarian function.
No matter the complicated nature of the surgery, the goal is that fewer ovaries are removed unnecessarily; improving the lives and reproductive outcomes in girls and young women.
For more information on Nationwide Children’s Section of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, click here.
Geri D. Hewitt, MD, is chief of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of clinical obstetrics in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
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