Sexual functioning more than 15 years after premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy

Lara Terra, Maarten J Beekman, Ellen G Engelhardt, Bernadette A M Heemskerk-Gerritsen, Marc Van Beurden, Jeanine E Roeters Van Lennep, Helena C Van Doorn, Joanne A De Hullu, Eleonora B L Van Dorst, Constantijne H Mom, Brigitte F M Slangen, Katja N Gaarenstroom, Lizet E van der Kolk, J Margriet Collée, Marijke R Wevers, Margreet G E M Ausems, K Van Engelen, I Van De Beek, Lieke P V Berger, Christi J Van AsperenEncarna B Gomez Garcia, Angela H E M Maas, Maartje J Hooning, Neil K Aaronson, Marian J E Mourits, Flora E Van Leeuwen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Women with a BRCA1/2 pathogenic variant are advised to undergo premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy after completion of childbearing, to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer. Several studies reported less sexual pleasure 1 to 3 years after a premenopausal oophorectomy. However, the long-term effects of premenopausal oophorectomy on sexual functioning are unknown. Objective: This study aimed to study long-term sexual functioning in women at increased familial risk of breast or ovarian cancer who underwent a risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy either before the age of 46 years (premenopausal group) or after the age of 54 years (postmenopausal group). Subgroup analyses were performed in the premenopausal group, comparing early (before the age of 41 years) and later (at ages 41–45 years) premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. Study Design: Between 2018 and 2021, 817 women with a high familial risk of breast or ovarian cancer from an ongoing cohort study were invited to participate in our study. Because of a large difference in age in the study between the premenopausal and postmenopausal salpingo-oophorectomy groups, we restricted the comparison of sexual functioning between the groups to 368 women who were 60 to 70 years old at completion of the questionnaire (226 in the premenopausal group and 142 in the postmenopausal group). In 496 women with a premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy, we compared the sexual functioning between women in the early premenopausal group (n=151) and women in the later premenopausal group (n=345). Differences between groups were analyzed using multiple regression analyses, adjusting for current age, breast cancer history, use of hormone replacement therapy, body mass index, chronic medication use (yes or no), and body image. Results: Mean times since risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy were 20.6 years in the premenopausal group and 10.6 years in the postmenopausal group (P<.001). The mean age at questionnaire completion was 62.7 years in the premenopausal group, compared with 67.0 years in the postmenopausal group (P<.001). Compared with 48.9% of women in the postmenopausal group, 47.4% of women in the premenopausal group were still sexually active (P=.80). Current sexual pleasure scores were the same for women in the premenopausal group and women in the postmenopausal group (mean pleasure score, 8.6; P=.99). However, women in the premenopausal group more often reported substantial discomfort than women in the postmenopausal group (35.6% vs 20.9%; P=.04). After adjusting for confounders, premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy was associated with substantially more discomfort during sexual intercourse than postmenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.04–9.4). Moreover, after premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy, more severe complaints of vaginal dryness were observed (odds ratio, 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.4–4.7). Women with a risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy before the age of 41 years reported similar pleasure and discomfort scores as women with a risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy between ages 41 and 45 years. Conclusion: More than 15 years after premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy, the proportion of sexually active women was comparable with the proportion of sexually active women with a postmenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. However, after a premenopausal risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy, women experienced more vaginal dryness and more often had substantial sexual discomfort during sexual intercourse. This did not lead to less pleasure with sexual activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440.e1-440.e20
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • BRCA pathogenic variants
  • Brca1
  • Brca2
  • Ovariectomy
  • Sexual discomfort
  • Sexual pleasure
  • Surgical menopause
  • Vaginal dryness


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