An oophorectomy is defined as the surgical removal of one or both of your ovaries, which are the reproductive organs responsible for growing and releasing eggs during your menstrual cycle. They also produce estrogen and progesterone.

Oophorectomies are performed as a preventative procedure in women at risk of ovarian cancer and for women who already have ovarian cancer. They may also be recommended if you have or are at risk for other gynecologic cancers or noncancerous masses. Depending on what organs and tissue have cancer, an oophorectomy may be done along with a hysterectomy.

There are two types of oophorectomies:

  • Bilateral oophorectomy — Removal of both ovaries, often used in women who have gone through menopause or have ovarian or endometrial cancer.
  • Unilateral oophorectomy — Removal of one ovary, often used in women who do not have cancer and wish to remain fertile.

The majority of oophorectomies are performed with a minimally invasive approach. In rare cases, open surgery may be necessary. You and your gynecologic oncologist will have a conversation about your options and what the best approach is depending on your diagnosis and stage in life.

Reasons for treatment

Oophorectomies may be performed for a number of reasons, but the most common include:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Peritoneal cancer
  • Forms of cervical cancer
  • Reducing the risk of developing ovarian cancer or cancers linked to the ovaries
  • Reducing the risk of developing breast cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Tumors or cysts developing on the ovaries

Risks and side effects

The risks of an oophorectomy depend on the type of oophorectomy you are having, the approach being taken and your diagnosis. Our gynecologic oncologists have unparalleled experience in the field of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, which directly relates to improved outcomes.

Potential  risks associated with an oophorectomy include:

  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • Damage to the uterus or other nearby organs
  • Reduced fertility
  • Infertility if both ovaries are removed
  • Premature menopause or menopause if both ovaries are removed

Treatment preparation

Ahead of your surgery, your gynecologic oncologist will provide you with instruction on preparation. This typically includes no eating or drinking after midnight the night before surgery and stopping certain medications. If you need to take any additional preparation steps, your physician will explain why and what they are. 

What to expect after treatment

After surgery, you may need to remain hospitalized. The length of your stay depends on the type of surgery you received, but in most cases you can go home the same day or the next day. If you are having both ovaries removed, our experts will counsel you on infertility and menopause.

Common side effects of menopause include:

  • Vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes or sweating

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