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Oophorectomy

(Ovariectomy; Salpingo-Oophorectomy; Bilateral Oophorectomy; Oophorectomy, Bilateral)

Definition

Oophorectomy is the removal of one or both ovaries. People who have both ovaries removed will no longer menstruate and be able to get pregnant.

This may be combined with removing the fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy). It is often done as part of a complete or total hysterectomy.

The Female Reproductive System
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Reasons for Procedure

This procedure may be done to:

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots, especially in the veins of the legs
  • Damage to other organs
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause if both ovaries are removed
  • Depression

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity
  • Previous pelvic surgery or serious infection

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as images of the pelvic organs

Anesthesia

General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.

Description of Procedure

This procedure may be done in one of two ways:

Open Surgery

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 incision will be closed with staples or stitches. Bandages will be placed over the area.

Laparoscopic Surgery

A small incision will be made near the naval. A tiny tool with a tiny camera on the end will be inserted. This will let the surgeon see the pelvic organs on a video monitor. Other small incisions will be made. Special tools will be inserted through them. 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. Bandages will be placed over the area.

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?

1 to 4 hours

Will It Hurt?

Pain is common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help.

Average Hospital Stay

Most people can go home in 1 to 3 days. It depends on which surgery method was used. If there are any problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicine
  • Encourage you to walk

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions

At Home

It will take up to 6 weeks to fully heal. Physical activity will be limited during this time. Sex will need to be avoided. Ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incisions
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicine you have been given
  • Vaginal bleeding that soaks more than one pad per hour
  • Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or lasting blood in the urine
  • Swelling, redness, or pain in the legs
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org

REFERENCES:

Endometrial cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/endometrial/Patient/page4#Keypoint14. Accessed August 26, 2021.

Ovarian cancer. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/ovarian-cancer. Accessed August 26, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG  Last Updated: 8/26/2021