Sexual Function in Older Women After Oophorectomy

Erekson, Elisabeth A. MD, MPH; Martin, Deanna K. MPH; Zhu, Kejia BS; Ciarleglio, Maria M. PhD; Patel, Divya A. PhD; Guess, Marsha K. MD; Ratner, Elena S. MD

Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31826af3d1
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To compare the sexual function of older women who had bilateral oophorectomy with that of older women who had retained their ovaries.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study involved analysis of 1,352 women aged 57 to 85 years from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Women with previous bilateral oophorectomy were compared with women who retained their ovaries. The primary outcome of interest was self-report of sexual ideation, chosen because having thoughts about sexual experiences is not prohibited by either a partner or a woman's own physical limitations.

RESULTS: Three hundred fifty-six (25.8%) women reported previous bilateral oophorectomy. Our analysis achieved 90% power to detect a difference of 10% in sexual ideation. No significant difference in the report of sexual ideation was found between women with previous bilateral oophorectomy and women who retained their ovaries (54.5% and 95% confidence interval [CI] 48.1–61.0 compared with 49.9% and 95% CI 45.3–54.5, P=.230), even after adjusting for current hormone therapy, age, education, and race (adjusted odds ratio 1.32, 95% CI 0.96–1.80).

CONCLUSION: Bilateral oophorectomy may not play a pivotal role in sexual ideation and function among older women.


In Brief

Sexual ideation and function in older women with previous bilateral oophorectomy are similar to those of women who retain their ovaries.

Author Information

From the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, and the Yale Center for Analytical Sciences, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut.

Dr. Patel is supported by a career development award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) (K07 CA120040). Dr. Ratner is supported by a career development award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (K12 HD047018).

Corresponding author: Elisabeth A. Erekson, MD, MPH, Yale University School of Medicine, Section of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, 333 Cedar Street, PO Box 208063, New Haven, CT 06519; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2012 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists