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Orchiectomy

Surgery Overview

Orchiectomy (say "or-kee-EK-tuh-mee") is surgery to remove one or both of your testicles. It is usually done to treat testicular cancer. It may also be done for other reasons, such as removing a damaged testicle or as part of treatment for prostate cancer.

For testicular cancer, the surgery is called a radical inguinal orchiectomy. The doctor makes a cut in the lower belly. The testicle or testicles are removed and the cut is closed with stitches.

For a simple orchiectomy, the doctor removes one or both testicles through a cut in the scrotum.

If desired, artificial testicles (saline implants) can be put into the scrotum.

You should be able to do most of your normal activities after 2 to 3 weeks. But you will not be able to do anything that requires your body to work hard. It's important not to strain with bowel movements or to lift heavy things.

You will probably need to take 2 to 3 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

With one testicle, you can still get an erection or father a child. But if both testicles are removed, you will not be able to father a child. And you may have problems getting an erection.

It is common to feel sad or depressed after this surgery. You may have concerns about body image and sex. Ask your doctor about support groups or other resources that can help.

Risks

Orchiectomy surgery is relatively low-risk. Complications aren't common. But orchiectomy carries all the risks of any major surgery, including:

  • Reactions to anesthesia or medicines.
  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.

Bilateral orchiectomy (removal of both testes) is rarely done and carries the possibility of side effects. They are related to the loss of testosterone after the removal of both testes. These include:

  • Infertility.
  • Loss of sexual interest.
  • Erection problems.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia).
  • Weight gain.
  • Loss of muscle mass.
  • Osteoporosis.

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