The term oophorectomy is used to describe the surgical removal of one or both of the ovaries. It is also called ovariectomy.

The surgery may just remove the ovaries, or it may be a part of a hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus and possibly some surrounding structures.

There are different reasons for an oophorectomy, including:

  • treating abnormal tissue growth from endometriosis
  • lowering the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • treating pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • removing ovarian cysts, abscesses, or cancerous cells in the ovaries
  • removing the source of estrogen, which may stimulate some cancer, such as breast cancer

An oophorectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both of a woman's ovaries. The surgery is usually performed to prevent or treat certain conditions, such as ovarian cancer or endometriosis.

An oophorectomy comes with its own risks and complications, so a person should always discuss their options with a doctor prior to surgery.

The surgery only lasts a few hours, but recovery times can vary. Self-care is an important part of recovery, and it is crucial to discuss recovery with a doctor beforehand to avoid unwanted complications.

When an oophorectomy involves removing both ovaries, it's called bilateral oophorectomy. When the surgery involves removing only one ovary, it's called unilateral oophorectomy.

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What happens during the procedure?

The surgery can be performed using a vertical or horizontal abdominal incision. Vertical incisions offer the surgeon a better view, but horizontal incisions leave a less obvious scar.

The surgeon first separates your abdominal muscles to reveal the ovaries. Next, blood vessels are tied to prevent bleeding. After your ovaries are removed, your surgeon uses staples or stiches to close the incision.

Oophorectomy can also be done with a laparoscope, a thin instrument with a small camera on the end. This allows your surgeon to see your organs on a monitor.

In this procedure, the laparoscope is inserted into a tiny incision near your belly button. Your surgeon makes a few other tiny cuts for tools to tie off blood vessels. They next remove your ovaries through a small incision near the top of your vagina or through small cuts in the abdominal wall. Finally, they close off the cuts with a few stitches, and you’re left with several small scars.

For abdominal surgery, you’ll need general anesthesia. The laparoscopic surgery can be performed under general or local anesthesia. The operation can last anywhere from one to four hours, depending on the specifics of the surgery.

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Side effects of Oophorectomy

Side effects of any surgery may include:

  • allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • damage to nearby organs

If both ovaries were removed, you’ll likely have symptoms of menopause due to the drop in your levels of estrogen and progesterone. Many women are placed on hormone replacement medication.

Symptoms of menopause may include:

  • hot flashes
  • vaginal dryness
  • changes in sex drive
  • sadness, anxiety, depression

Menopause also means an end to menstruation and the need for birth control.

Serious complications after oophorectomy are rare, but you may be more prone to complications if you have diabetes, are obese, or are a smoker. Report unusual side effects to your doctor right away.

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