On Oct. 16, 2018, JustJared reported that Lena Dunham had her left ovary removed. On Oct. 17, Dunham posted a photo her mother took of her post-op on Instagram, writing, “Yesterday I had a two hour surgery to remove my left ovary, which was encased in scar tissue & fibrosis, attached to my bowel and pressing on nerves that made it kinda hard to walk/pee/vamp. Over the last month it got worse and worse until I was simply a burrito posing as a human.” Although ovary removal at Dunham's age isn't very common, it does beg the question: what happens to your body when your ovaries are removed?
"If a woman has only one ovary removed she likely won't notice any extremely adverse symptoms long term," Dr. Patrice Harold, director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Detroit Medical Center's Hutzel Women's Hospital, tells Bustle. "If both ovaries are removed and she is premenopausal, she will most likely start to experience hot flashes, a change in sex drive, among other things in the immediate post-operative period (one to three days)."
The removal of Dunham's ovary comes less than a year after Dunham’s hysterectomy, an experience that she wrote about in Vogue’s March 2018 issue. She chose to have the procedure at 31 when her struggle with endometriosis had become unbearable. While someone who's removed an ovary will experience changes to their body, still having the other ovary will reduce the severity of the symptoms and issues that might come up. "One ovary can compensate for the other being removed," Tiffanny Jones, MD FACOG, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at Dallas IVF, tells Bustle. "When both are removed, the estrogen levels fall dramatically."
Here's what else someone can expect when their ovaries are removed, according to doctors