What is an orchiectomy?
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.
How do you prepare for surgery?
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
Preparing for surgery
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of surgery?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery center
Bring a picture ID.
The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
The surgery will take about 1 hour.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
- You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter E513 in the search box to learn more about "Orchiectomy: Before Your Surgery".
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology