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

Pronounced: o-frek-toe-me

En Español (Spanish Version)


Oophorectomy is the removal of one or both (bilateral oophorectomy) ovaries. This may be combined with removing the fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy). Removal of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes are often done as part of a complete or total hysterectomy.

Parts of the Body Involved

  • Ovaries, possibly fallopian tubes

The Female Reproductive System

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Reasons for Procedure

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your physician will likely do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the inside of the body
  • CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body

The day before and the day of your surgery:

  • The night before, eat a light dinner and do not eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight.
  • The surgical area will be shaved.


Description of the Procedure

There are two different methods of oophorectomy:

Abdominal Incision

The surgeon makes a 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) incision. The incision is either horizontal across the pubic hair line or vertical from navel to pubic bone. Horizontal incisions leave less of a scar. Vertical incisions give the surgeon a better view of the abdominal cavity. A vertical incision is more likely if you have cancer. The abdominal muscles are pulled apart. This allows the surgeon to see the ovaries. The blood vessels are tied off to prevent excess bleeding. Then the ovaries, and often the fallopian tubes, are removed.

Laparoscopic Procedure

The laparoscope is inserted through a small cut near the navel. An attached camera lets the surgeon see the abdominal cavity and pelvic organs on a video monitor. Other small (¼-½ inch wide) cuts are made. The doctor inserts slender tools. These tools are used to cut and tie off the blood vessels and fallopian tubes. The ovaries are detached and removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina. The ovaries can also be cut into smaller sections and removed through the tiny cuts. The cuts are closed with stitches. This will leave small scars.

After Procedure

The removed organs are sent to a lab.

How Long Will It Take?

45-160 minutes

Will It Hurt?

You will feel discomfort after your oophorectomy. Women report less pain after a laparoscopic procedure than an abdominal incision procedure.

Possible Complications

  • Changes in sex drive
  • Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause (if both ovaries are removed)
  • Possible increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis (Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may reduce this risk.)
  • Depression and other forms of psychological distress
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood clots, particularly in the veins of the legs
  • Accidental damage to other pelvic and abdominal organs
  • Infection

Average Hospital Stay

  • Abdominal incision—2-5 days
  • Laparoscopic procedure—1 day

Postoperative Care

  • You will be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of postsurgical infection.
  • Your body goes into menopause right away if both ovaries are removed. If you are not being treated for breast cancer, your doctor will give you hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause symptoms.
  • Returning to normal activities (such as driving and working) takes 2-6 weeks, depending on the type of surgery.
  • Some women may have emotional distress after their ovaries are removed. Counseling and/or a support group may help.


The outcome depends on what condition was treated. For example, ovarian cancer is rapidly spreading and often not diagnosed until it is well-established. Removing the ovaries will not eliminate the cancer if it has already spread. Patients with ovarian cancer get other forms of treatment (chemotherapy and/or radiation) in addition to oophorectomy.

Endometriosis can be treated with an oophorectomy. But it requires identifying and treating other endometrial areas outside of the ovaries at the time of surgery.

You will stop menstruating if both of your ovaries are removed. Also, you will not be able to get pregnant. If one ovary or even just a portion of an ovary remains, you will still menstruate and may be able to get pregnant (assuming you did not have a hysterectomy).

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Persistent or increased vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Severe pain
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision sites
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, severe nausea, or vomiting


American Cancer Society

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists

National Cancer Institute


Canadian Cancer Society

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


Cancer of the ovary. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp096.cfm. Accessed June 8, 2008.

Endometrial cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/endometrial/Patient/page4#Keypoint14. Accessed June 8, 2008.

Rosenfeld LE. Women and heart disease. Yale University School of Medicine Heart Book website. Available at: http://www.med.yale.edu/library/heartbk/. Accessed February 20, 2008.

Last reviewed January 2008 by Jeff Andrews, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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