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
Here’s what you can expect before, during and after:
Before the surgery:
Several tests may be used before scheduling the operation, including:
- physical exams
- blood tests
- urine tests
- computed tomography (CT) scan
During the surgery:
An oophorectomy is performed using either open abdominal surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Both operations should take no more than a few hours to complete but may require staying one or several nights in the hospital.
Open abdominal surgery
In an open abdominal surgery, a surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen and then carefully separate the abdominal muscles.
Blood vessels will be temporarily tied off to prevent bleeding. The surgeon will remove the ovary or ovaries and then seal up the incision.
During laparoscopic surgery, a thin, cord-like instrument is inserted into a small cut near the navel. A tiny camera allows the surgeon to see and remove the ovary or ovaries. The process may leave less noticeable scars and have a shorter recovery time than open abdominal surgery.
After the surgery:
It is helpful for someone else to drive the woman home and care for her in the first few days after her surgery.
Most surgeries will require at least 2–3 weeks away from work. Regular check-ups allow doctors to monitor and alter the recovery process, as needed.
How long does recovery take?
Recovering from an oophorectomy will vary based on a few different factors, including the type of surgery. Laparoscopic surgery may require only 1 day in the hospital, but open abdominal surgery will typically need 2 or more days in the hospital.
Recovery recommendations will vary, depending on the individual, but some general recovery tips include:
- resting before surgery and during recovery
- taking relaxed, deep breaths
- avoiding heavy lifting or exercise
- refraining from sexual intercourse
- avoiding using tampons during recovery
- making dietary changes and taking medications for constipation as needed
- avoiding infection risks, such as taking baths and wearing tight or synthetic clothing
We will instruct patients on how to take care of their incision site, including regular cleaning, keeping the area dry, and monitoring it for signs of infection.