Personalized Care for an Oophorectomy
An oophorectomy is the surgical removal of one or both ovaries, the organs that contain eggs and produce female sex hormones. If the ovaries and fallopian tubes—the tubes between the ovaries and uterus—are removed, the procedure is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.
At UPMC our providers are experienced in performing oophorectomies in conjunction with hysterectomies; however, it can be performed without a hysterectomy if the case dictates. To receive excellence in care, Find a Provider today.
Why an Oophorectomy Is Performed
Your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the ovaries if:
- You have ovarian cancer.
- You have a genetic mutation (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2) that increases your risk of cancer.
- Removing the ovaries, especially before menopause, decreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- You have endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- Your ovary has twisted (ovarian torsion).
- You have a noncancerous ovarian tumor or cyst.
- You are post-menopausal and undergoing a hysterectomy.
What to Expect
Before surgery, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you, including possible and expected effects on your life. Because the ovaries produce the hormones that control menstruation, removal of both ovaries before menopause results in sudden menopause. If only one ovary is removed, you will continue to have menstrual periods and can get pregnant. Together, you and your healthcare provider can discuss expected side effects, methods to preserve your fertility, and planned treatment to control symptoms.
An oophorectomy is performed in a hospital operating room or surgery center. You will be “asleep,” or under general anesthesia, during the surgery.
There are two approaches to performing an oophorectomy:
- Laparoscopic oophorectomy: The surgeon makes three or four tiny incisions in your abdomen and manipulates surgical tools through the incisions to remove the ovaries. A small camera inserted through one of the incisions helps the surgeon see inside the body.
- Open oophorectomy: The surgeon makes a large horizontal or vertical incision in your abdomen and operates through the incision.
Talk with your doctor about plans to minimize your risks.
Recovery After an Oophorectomy
Your recovery will depend on the type of oophorectomy you choose and your overall health. Generally, women who undergo laparoscopic oophorectomy recover more quickly and experience less pain than women who have an open oophorectomy.
If you have laparoscopic surgery, you will likely go home the day after surgery. If you have open surgery, you may spend two to five days recovering in the hospital. Your healthcare providers will monitor your incision(s), administer pain medication to keep you comfortable, and encourage you to get up and move around. Walking promotes healing and helps prevent complications.
Your recovery will continue at home. If both ovaries were removed and you were pre-menopausal, you may experience menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and changes in libido. Doctors sometimes prescribe hormone replacement therapy to alleviate these side effects.
Most women are fully healed and back to their usual activities within two to six weeks after surgery.
Skilled providers at UPMC offer world-class care for a wide range of gynecological conditions affecting women of all ages.