Orchiectomy surgery (or orchidectomy) is a urology procedure that’s carried out to remove either one or both testicles. For many people, facing health issues of this kind can be daunting. Thankfully, innovative treatments like an orchiectomy have made tackling these health issues easier. This procedure can also be effective for non-medical purposes too, such as helping patients who are looking to undergo gender reassignment.
But, what exactly is orchiectomy surgery, how does it work, and where can you find a doctor that’s right for you?
The content has been reviewed for quality and accuracy to the best of our knowledge by Qunomedical and its Medical Board of Experts.
Illustration of the male reproductive system.
Illustration of the male reproductive system.
Orchiectomy Surgery Quick Details
WHO IS THIS FOR
Men with testicular or prostate cancer.
Men with severe testicular trauma.
Patients undergoing sex reassignment surgery from male to female.
Orchiectomy surgery typically takes between 30-60 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure.
You should be able to return to your daily return after around 1-2 weeks.
It generally takes about four weeks to make a full recovery.
Orchiectomy success rates vary depending on the type of procedure carried out and the reasons for undergoing the surgery.
For patients undergoing a radical orchiectomy to treat stage I testicular cancer for example, the five year survival rate is 96-100%.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
What Is Orchiectomy Surgery?
An orchiectomy is a surgical procedure undertaken to remove one or both testicles. The procedure is also known as an orchidectomy and is most commonly carried out to treat prostate or testicular cancer. It can also be performed if one or both testicles have been damaged through an accident or injury. Orchiectomy surgery is also commonly carried out on patients who are seeking sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) to transition from male to female.
How Does an Orchiectomy Work?
Depending on the reasons for the treatment being performed, the specific details of your orchiectomy surgery may vary. Different techniques have been developed for specific situations and to tackle certain problems. Below, we’ve outlined the main types of orchiectomy in more detail.
1. Simple Orchiectomy
A simple orchiectomy involves the surgeon creating a small incision of the front of the scrotum and removing either one or both testicles. This is commonly performed to treat prostate cancer, as it helps to limit the production of testosterone. Following a simple orchiectomy, patients may have the option to have artificial testicles fitted. These are usually made from silicone and this is an option that can be discussed with the doctor prior to the surgery.
2. Bilateral Orchiectomy
A bilateral orchiectomy involves the creation of an incision and the removal of both testicles. This is usually performed to treat prostate or testicular cancer, or for patients who are undergoing SRS to transition from male to female.
3. Radical Orchiectomy
A radical orchiectomy, often referred to as an inguinal orchiectomy, also involves the removal of either one or both testicles. However, rather than creating an incision in the scrotum, this technique involves making an incision in the groin through which the testicles are then removed. If the surgery is being carried out to treat testicular cancer, then it’s likely that the spermatic cord — the tube that carries sperm away from the testicles — will also be removed.
4. Subcapsular Orchiectomy
This method is most commonly carried out to treat prostate cancer. This technique is similar to a simple orchiectomy, although, rather than the entire scrotum gland being removed, only the glandular tissue is removed. This helps to retain the original appearance of the scrotum.
Preparing for a Medical Orchiectomy
How you prepare for orchiectomy surgery will depend on your reasons for undergoing the procedure. If you need an orchiectomy in order to treat testicular cancer for example, then it’s likely that you’ll need to undergo some initial tests before the surgery. Typically, these include things like an ultrasound and blood tests. These help the doctor to determine the cancer indicators and ensure that you’re healthy enough to undergo the surgery.
Preparing for a Non-Medical Orchiectomy
For patients seeking an orchiectomy as part of a wider SRS treatment or for other personal reasons, there are a few important steps to be aware of. Before being eligible for the surgery, you’ll need to be able to provide two referral letters from qualified mental health professionals who have carried out independent assessments. This is a requirement regardless of whether you choose to have the treatment in the UK or abroad.
This criteria is part of the standards set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. According to WPATH, these care standards are in place “to provide clinical guidance for health professionals to assist transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people with safe and effective pathways to achieving lasting personal comfort with their gendered selves, in order to maximize their overall health, psychological well-being, and self-fulfillment.”
If you’re concerned about the steps involved in a non-medical orchiectomy, then don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our Patient Managers will be happy to talk through it with you and how it could work with your individual situation.
Recovering From Orchiectomy Surgery
Generally speaking, there isn’t a big recovery process following an orchiectomy. However, there are a few important things to bear in mind that are important to follow during the recovery period.
Take things easy for the first few days. Avoid having sex, heavy lifting, or any strenuous, aerobic activities.
Use an ice pack on your scrotum to ease swelling around the incision site. However, this should only be done for short periods of around 15 minutes at a time.
Ask your doctor about any special soaps, creams, or ointments that you can use as these can help the healing process.
Avoid showering, bathing, or swimming for the first few days following your surgery until the incision has had time to heal.
Take painkillers as prescribed and avoid driving until you’ve finished the prescription.
In most cases, routine, daily activities can be resumed after around 1-2 weeks. However, this varies for everyone, with some patients only fully recovering after two months. Therefore, it’s really important to go slowly following an orchiectomy and not rush towards recovery.
Why Choose Qunomedical?
At Qunomedical, we take a patient first approach to healthcare. Whatever your individual situation may be, we’ll work hard to find high-quality treatment, at a price that’s affordable for you. We will only ever provide you with information on doctors and clinics that have been thoroughly vetted using our proprietary scoring system, Qunoscore. This assesses doctors based on 21 unique data points including qualifications, experience, accreditations, value for money, and reviews from past patients. If you’re interested in finding out more about orchiectomy surgery, or are ready to book your treatment, contact us. One of our Patient Managers will be in touch to get you started with your 100% free, non-binding assessment.