Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


3-minute read

Ovariectomy is the surgical removal of one or both ovaries. It is usually performed to treat an ovarian cyst, ovarian cancer or some other problem related to the ovary. Another name for the procedure is oophorectomy. Bilateral ovariectomy refers to the surgical removal of both ovaries.

Why is the procedure performed?

Ovariectomy is usually performed to treat:

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled pocket in the ovary. There are different types of ovarian cysts. Most do not cause any problems, but some can turn out to be cancerous, meaning an ovariectomy may be necessary.

Large ovarian cysts can become twisted. This painful condition, known as ovarian torsion, is a surgical emergency. The cyst or entire ovary may need to be removed.

Women with ovarian torsion usually experience sudden, severe, sharp pains in the lower abdomen, often with nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms it is important to see a doctor immediately or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

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, which involves making a long cut in the abdomen. This allows for the ovaries, fallopian tubes and other organs, if they have been affected, to be removed.

Some women have a high family risk of developing ovarian cancer. If so, they may even choose to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce their risk.

Ovariectomy may also be used to treat endometriosis if other treatments have not worked. Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue lining of the uterus grows outside it. In severe cases, the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed.

How to prepare for the procedure

If you need to have an ovariectomy, you will probably meet with the surgeon and anaesthetist before the operation to discuss the procedure. You will likely need to avoid drinking and eating for some hours before surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise you.

Having both ovaries removed will result in menopause. If you were still having periods before surgery, they will stop immediately after. Knowing what will happen before an ovariectomy may help you feel more prepared to cope with the physical and emotional changes that will follow the surgery. You may also want to discuss with your doctor whether you will be able to become pregnant in the future.

What happens during the procedure?

Ovariectomy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic so that you are asleep during the procedure. The surgeon will make a cut in your abdomen to remove your ovary.

What to expect after the procedure

You might need to stay in hospital for a few days after an ovariectomy so you can recover. You may be given pain relief medication and advised on how to take care of your wound. You will probably be advised to avoid certain activities such as swimming or heavy lifting for a few weeks.

What can go wrong

Complications that may occur during or after an ovariectomy include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • damage to nearby organs
  • having a small part of the ovary left behind, which could cause problems and be painful

More information

Visit healthdirect's surgical procedures pages to learn more about surgical procedures in general, with information such as:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in 1 or both ovaries in a womans reproductive system. The earlier the cancer is detected and diagnosed, the better the outcome.

Read more on WA Health website

Endometriosis - Better Health Channel

Endometriosis is a painful condition that may be treated with medications or surgery.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Endometriosis management & treatment | Jean Hailes

There are many options for managing and treating endometriosis, including a healthy lifestyle, pain-relief medications, hormone therapy such as the combined oral contraceptive pill and progestins. Different types of surgery, including laparoscopy, laparot

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Treatment options

Treatment and care of people with cancer is usually provided by a team of health professionals, both medical and allied health, called a multidisciplinary team.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Hysterectomy | Jean Hailes

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb). There are many reasons for having a hysterectomy including cancer, heavy and continuous bleeding, endometriosis and severe pelvic pain. Except when there is cancer or uncontrollable life threaten

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Uterine cancer - Cancer Council Australia

What is uterine cancer? Find out about the symptoms, causes, treatment options and more. Get the facts from Cancer Council here.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo