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An oophorectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one, a part of one, or both ovaries.  Oophorectomy may be used to treat cancer or noncancerous conditions.
Oophorectomy may be used to remove cancerous ovaries, large cysts or abscesses, and endometriosis.  Oophorectomies are sometimes performed on pre-menopausal women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.  In women with a very strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer, the surgery may be performed as a preventative measure.
One ovary, a part of one ovary, or both ovaries may be removed.  An oophorectomy may be performed in conjunction with a hysterectomy, a surgery that removes the uterus.  The removal of an ovary with a fallopian tube is termed a salpingo-oophorectomy.
For a premenopausal woman, if one ovary is removed, a woman may still get her periods and be able to give birth to babies.  If both ovaries are removed, a woman will not menstruate anymore and will not be able to give birth to babies.  Removal of both ovaries will cause immediate menopause, referred to as “surgical menopause.”  After both ovaries are removed, women that do not have cancer may receive hormone replacement therapy to help ease the hormonal transition.

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The type of oophorectomy that you receive may depend on your reason for treatment, the extent of your condition, and your preference.  There are a few types of oophorectomy methods.  The procedures are performed with general anesthesia.

An oophorectomy may be performed through a horizontal or vertical incision in the abdomen.  A horizontal incision may leave less of scar, but a vertical incision allows your surgeon to view inside your abdominal cavity better.  A vertical incision is mandatory if cancer is suspected.  You will need to stay in the hospital for two to five days follow your procedure.  It may take three to six weeks before you can return to your regular activities.
In some cases, oophorectomy is performed with a laparoscopic procedure.  A laparoscopy uses a small incision near the belly button and a laparoscope to guide the surgery.  A laparoscope is a type of endoscope.  It consists of a thin tube with a light and viewing instrument.  Images from the laparoscope may be sent to a video monitor.  Thin surgical instruments are inserted through the laparoscope.  The ovaries are detached and removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina. Laparoscope surgery is associated with less pain, less bleeding, less time spent in the hospital, and a quicker recovery time.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit