(Ovariectomy; Salpingo-Oophorectomy; Bilateral Oophorectomy; Oophorectomy, Bilateral)
Oophorectomy is the removal of 1 or both ovaries. This may be combined with removing the fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy). Removal of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes is often done as part of a complete or total hysterectomy.
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Reasons for Procedure
An oophorectomy may be done to:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have an oophorectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These include:
- Changes in sex drive
- Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause if both ovaries are removed
- Depression and other forms of psychological distress
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Blood clots, particularly in the veins of the legs
- Damage to other organs
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss the risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam
- Blood and urine tests
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the inside of the body
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
Leading up to your procedure:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
- Eat a light dinner the night before the procedure. After midnight, do not eat or drink anything, including water.
- Arrange for a ride home and for help at home.
General anesthesia may be used for open or laparoscopic surgery—You will be asleep.
Description of Procedure
There are 2 different methods:
An incision will be made. It will either be horizontal (side to side) across the pubic hair line, or vertical (up and down) from navel to pubic bone. Horizontal incisions leave less of a scar. Vertical incisions provide a better view inside the abdomen. The abdominal muscles will be pulled apart. The surgeon will be able to see the ovaries. The blood vessels will be tied off. This will help to prevent bleeding. The ovaries, and often the fallopian tubes, will be removed. The cut will be closed with staples or stitches.
The laparoscope is a thin tool with a tiny camera on the end. It will be inserted through a small cut near the navel. This will let the surgeon see the pelvic organs on a video monitor. Other small cuts will be made. Special tools will be inserted through these cuts. The tools will be used to cut and tie off the blood vessels and fallopian tubes. The ovaries will be detached. They will then be removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina. The ovaries may also be cut into smaller sections and removed through the tiny cuts in the abdominal wall. The cuts will be closed with stitches. This will leave small scars.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be moved to a recovery area. The removed organs will be sent to a lab for examination.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. You will feel discomfort after your oophorectomy. Women report less pain after a laparoscopic procedure than an abdominal incision procedure. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage any pain.
Average Hospital Stay
- Abdominal incision—2-3 days
- Laparoscopic procedure—1 day
Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:
- On the first night, you may be instructed to sit up in bed or walk a short distance.
- The next morning, the IV will probably be removed if you are eating and drinking well.
- You may need to wear special socks or boots to help prevent blood clots.
- You may have a Foley catheter for a short time to help you urinate.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Do not have sexual intercourse until your doctor says it is okay to do so.
- Some women may experience emotional changes after their ovaries are removed. Counseling and/or a support group may help.
You will stop menstruating if both of your ovaries are removed. You will also not be able to get pregnant. You will still menstruate if 1 ovary or even just a portion of 1 ovary remains. You also may be able to get pregnant.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Persistent or increased vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after surgery, or which last for more than 2 days after discharge from the hospital
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision sites
- Difficulty urinating
- Swelling, redness, or pain in your leg
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Feeling depressed
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Endometrial cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/endometrial/Patient/page4#Keypoint14. Updated October 13, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.
Ovarian cancer. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq096.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130214T0953249629. Updated July 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 12/20/2014