Oophorectomy: Procedure, Recovery, and More (2024)

What is an oophorectomy?

Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your ovaries. When you have one ovary removed, it’s called unilateral oophorectomy. Removal of both ovaries is called bilateral.

This procedure may be used to treat:

  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • chronic pelvic pain
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • benign tumors
  • large ovarian cysts

In women who carry mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, oophorectomy may be performed to lower the risk of ovarian cancer. This is considered an elective or prophylactic oophorectomy.

Most of the production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone takes place in the ovaries. Removing both ovaries results in menopause and permanent infertility.

Continue reading to learn more about this procedure, why it’s often combined with other procedures, and what that means in the long term.

Oophorectomy can be performed alone, but it’s likely to be part of a multistep procedure. Whether it is depends on the reason for the surgery.

Removal of the ovaries is often combined with salpingectomy, a procedure to remove the fallopian tubes. This might be an option if the oophorectomy is done to lower your risk of ovarian cancer. That’s because the ovaries and fallopian tubes share a blood supply. When both procedures are done at once, it’s called a salpingo-oophorectomy.

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. When possible, the ovaries are preserved to prevent premature menopause. Hysterectomy may be combined with oophorectomy in certain circ*mstances. For example, it may lower the chances of ovarian cancer in women who are at particularly high risk.

There’s a lot to consider when having an oophorectomy, so make time to have this discussion with your doctor.

Discuss family planning and menopause

If both ovaries are removed, you won’t be able to get pregnant. In fact, you’ll be in menopause. If only one is removed, and you still have your uterus, you’ll be less fertile, but you can still conceive.

If you want children, ask your doctor to refer you to a fertility specialist before surgery so you understand your options.

There’s a chance that this procedure will cause an emotional reaction. If you have feelings of sadness or depression, consider seeing a therapist to help you work through it.

Early menopause may also increase your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about these health risks, as well as the potential benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after the procedure.

Prepare for surgery

Before scheduling the operation, you’ll probably undergo a few tests such as:

  • physical examination
  • blood and urine tests
  • imaging tests, such as a CT scan or ultrasound

Tell your doctor about any medications you take. Ask if you should stop taking them before surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the procedure and expected outcome.

Check with your health insurer so you have some idea what your out-of-pocket expenses will be, if any.

Get ready for a hospital stay

Your doctor will provide preoperative instructions so you’ll know what to do before surgery day.

Here are a few tips to help you get ready:

  • Arrange transportation home from the hospital because you won’t be allowed to drive.
  • Ask someone to help out at home for a few days while you’re recovering. Plan on staying home from work for a few weeks.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about when to stop eating and drinking (including water) before surgery. This is usually after midnight the night before. If you’re provided with a solution to drink to clean out your intestines, follow those instructions carefully.
  • Pack a hospital bag that includes personal items such as a toothbrush and hairbrush. Take a robe and slippers or socks, and the clothes you intend to wear home. It’s a good idea to bring something to read.

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 vagin* 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.

After the procedure, you’ll spend an hour or two in the recovery room. Once the anesthesia wears off, you’ll be transferred to a regular room.

That same day, you’ll be encouraged to sit up, stand, and even take a brief walk. You might have a catheter in place, but it’s only temporary. If all is well, it and your IV will be removed the following day.

You’ll probably stay in the hospital for a day or two following abdominal surgery. Laparoscopic surgery may require only one night in the hospital and may cause a little less postoperative pain.

You’ll be provided with postoperative instructions before leaving the hospital. Your doctor will advise you how long you should wait to have sexual intercourse.

Tell your doctor right away if you:

  • develop a fever
  • have nausea or vomiting for more than a few days
  • have more vagin*l discharge or bleeding than expected
  • have abdominal pain that doesn’t improve with medication or is getting worse
  • develop redness or swelling around the incision site
  • have trouble urinating
  • are coughing, or have shortness of breath or chest pain
  • feel depressed

Follow your doctor’s instructions during the recovery time. Eat well and get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal. Frequent movement, such as walking, will help you avoid blood clots. Slowly build up your physical activity as advised.

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
  • vagin*l 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.

Recovery time is different for everybody. After laparoscopic surgery, you may be able to return to your normal routine two weeks after surgery. For abdominal surgery, it can take up to six weeks or more for a full recovery.

Your doctor will be able to give you an idea of recovery time based on your personal health profile.

If you had one ovary removed and still have your uterus, you’ll still have periods and will notice little change. If you had both ovaries removed, you’re now postmenopausal.

Oophorectomy: Procedure, Recovery, and More (2024)


Oophorectomy: Procedure, Recovery, and More? ›

The swelling will take several weeks to go down. You may take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. It's important to avoid lifting while you are recovering so that you can heal. If you had both ovaries removed, you will start menopause if you haven't already started it.

How long does it take to heal internally after oophorectomy? ›

Several different types of oophorectomies can help reduce cancer risk and treat other conditions, including endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. It may take 4–6 weeks for a person to fully recover from the procedure, but the overall outlook is positive.

What can you not do after an oophorectomy? ›

You may need about 1 week to fully recover. Avoid strenuous activity and lifting anything heavy while you recover. You can ask your doctor when it's okay to have sex.

What is the downside of oophorectomy? ›

Risks of an oophorectomy include the following: Bleeding. Damage to nearby organs. Inability to get pregnant without medical help if both ovaries are removed.

Do you age faster after oophorectomy? ›

Ovaries serve as the body's hormone hub, producing vital elements like estrogen and progesterone, crucial for maintaining youthful attributes and impacting various bodily functions. Post-surgery, the abrupt decline in hormone production accelerates the aging process in multiple ways.

Do you lose weight after oophorectomy? ›

Animal studies suggest that oophorectomy causes weight gain due to a combination of factors including transient hyperphagia and a reduction in spontaneous activity, specifically fidgeting (12).

How long is belly swollen after oophorectomy? ›

It's normal to feel more tired and have less energy than normal for several weeks after surgery. As your body heals, you should begin to feel incrementally better every day. You may also experience bloating in your abdominal region, and this swelling can last for several weeks.

How painful is oophorectomy? ›

After surgery, you may feel some pain in your belly for a few days. Your belly may also be swollen. You may have a change in your bowel movements for a few days. You may also have shoulder pain for a day or two.

What is the quality of life after oophorectomy? ›

Conclusion: Our study indicated that women who underwent RRSO experienced no difference in QOL when compared with women without RRSO and that patients with premenopausal status seemed to be at higher risk to experience sexual complaints after surgery.

How long after oophorectomy can I drive? ›

Once you're home from the hospital, you will need to limit physical activities such as driving, exercise, and heavy lifting for 2-6 weeks, depending on the type of surgery. For laparoscopic surgery, it may be 3 or more weeks before you have all your energy back and for abdominal surgery, about 4-6 weeks.

Will I lose weight when they remove an ovarian cyst? ›

Will you lose weight after ovarian cysts resolve? Not necessarily. However, if you have PCOS, the correct treatments — which could include medication, dietary supplements, or lifestyle changes — may lead to weight loss. Ovarian cysts can cause some abdominal bloating, which may resolve after they go away.

Is ovary removal a big operation? ›

Is an oophorectomy considered major surgery? That depends on why and how you're having it done. If the ovary is being removed because of a very large tumor, or as part of a debulking procedure to remove as much cancer as possible, then it's considered major surgery.

How does oophorectomy affect the heart? ›

Bilateral oophorectomy performed before age 45 years is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality, especially with cardiac mortality. However, estrogen treatment may reduce this risk.

How does oophorectomy affect the brain? ›

Brain cells, known as neurones, that depend on oestrogen for growth and health, start losing their connections to other neurones. Ovarian removal before the age of 50 (menopause) leads to 2X the risk of Alzheimer disease.

How long does it take to fully recover from oophorectomy? ›

You may take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. It's important to avoid lifting while you are recovering so that you can heal. If you had both ovaries removed, you will start menopause if you haven't already started it. Your doctor may prescribe you hormone therapy.

Where does sperm go after oophorectomy? ›

Many people also ask the question, “Where does sperm go after a hysterectomy?” The answer is it doesn't go anywhere. Since the uterus is removed, the sperm will stay in the vagin* and eventually come out of your body along with your normal vagin*l secretions.

What is the phantom pain after oophorectomy? ›

Ovarian remnant syndrome is a rare condition where small pieces of ovarian tissue are inadvertently left in the pelvic cavity, following the surgical removal of one or both ovaries. The remnant tissue can grow, form cysts or hemorrhage, producing pain.

What is residual pain after oophorectomy? ›

Ovarian remnant syndrome (ORS) is defined as the pelvic pain in the presence of histologically proven ovarian tissue after salpingo-oophorectomy. It is a rare condition, where ovary is incompletely resected as it was densely adherent due to endometriosis, extensive adhesions, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

What is the recovery time for robotic oophorectomy? ›

Patients regain mobility within one day of surgery. Ninety percent of patients return to light physical activity and driving within a week and return to desk jobs after two weeks. Even though patients may feel better quickly, it's important to remember that full recovery takes between four to six weeks.

What is the lump after oophorectomy? ›

Ovarian remnant syndrome (ORS) is a condition resulting from incomplete removal of ovarian tissue during an oophorectomy associated with pain and/or a pelvic mass. Though uncommon, it presents a diagnostic challenge. Symptoms most frequently occur within the first 5 years after surgery.

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