- Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of your ovary.
- Bilateral oophorectomy refers to the surgical removal of both ovaries.
- Removal of an ovary may be done to treat problems such as an ovarian cyst, ovarian cancer or endometriosis.
What is an Oophorectomy?
Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of your ovary. Bilateral oophorectomy is the surgical removal of both ovaries.
When is the procedure needed?
Oophorectomy may be needed to treat problems such as:
- an ovarian cyst
- ovarian torsion (twisted ovary)
- ovarian cancer
- as part of a hysterectomy in some people
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled pocket in the ovary. There are different types of ovarian cysts. Sometimes ovarian cysts can rupture (burst).
Surgery for an ovarian cyst may involve removal of just the cyst or sometimes the ovary as well.
Sometimes your ovary can move or become twisted. This painful condition, known as ovarian torsion, is a surgical emergency.
Ovarian torsion causes sudden, severe, sharp pain in your lower abdomen, often with nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, see a doctor immediately or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
Large ovarian cysts can sometimes cause your ovary to move or twist. The cyst or entire ovary may need to be removed.
Ovarian cancer occurs when some cells in the ovary start to grow abnormally and develop into cancer.
Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a type of surgery known as a laparotomy. A long cut in the abdomen allows for the ovaries, fallopian tubes and other organs, if they have been affected, to be removed.
Some people have a high genetic risk of developing ovarian cancer. They may choose to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce their risk of getting ovarian cancer.
Oophorectomy may be done to treat endometriosis if other treatments have not worked. In severe cases, your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed.
How to prepare for removal of your ovary
If you need to have an oophorectomy, you will meet with your surgeon and anaesthetist beforehand to discuss the surgery.
You will need to stop drinking and eating for some hours before the surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise you.
You may want to discuss with your doctor whether your procedure will affect your ability to get pregnant in the future.
If you are still having periods, your periods will stop immediately after the surgery if you have both ovaries removed. This is called surgical menopause.
Knowing what will happen beforehand will help you feel more prepared. This should help you to cope with the physical and emotional changes that may follow the surgery.
What happens during the procedure?
Oophorectomy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic so that you are asleep during the procedure.
Your surgeon will make a cut in your abdomen (tummy) to remove your ovary or ovaries. Sometimes the procedure can be done laparoscopically — as keyhole surgery. This is called a laparoscopic oophorectomy. This involves having 3 to 4 small cuts in your abdomen.
Depending on your condition, your surgeon may also remove nearby tissue and organs. But they will discuss this with you before the surgery.
What to expect after the procedure
You might need to stay in hospital for a few days after an oophorectomy so you can recover. You will be given pain-relief medicine and advised on how to take care of your wound.
If you had a laparoscopy, you may have pain in your shoulder. This pain can be treated:
- with pain-relief medicines
- using a heat pack
- by moving and walking around
You'll probably need some time off work or study to rest at home. Your recovery will depend on:
- the type of procedure you had
- whether it was done by keyhole surgery or open surgery
- why you needed the surgery
Your doctor can talk with you about what to expect in your situation.
You will probably be advised to avoid certain activities such as swimming or heavy lifting for a few weeks.
What are the possible risks or complications?
Complications that may occur during or after an oophorectomy include:
- a reaction to the anaesthetic
- damage to nearby organs
- blood clots
Removal of both ovaries before menopause causes surgical menopause. This causes a sudden onset of menopause symptoms and a loss of fertility. Your doctor will talk with you about managing menopause and your fertility if you are having both ovaries removed.
Resources and support
For more information, visit:
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Last reviewed: August 2023