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Learning About Oophorectomy

Female pelvic organs

What is oophorectomy?

Oophorectomy (say "oh-uh-fuh-REK-tuh-mee") is surgery to take out one, both, or part of your ovaries. Your ovaries store and release eggs, which can develop into embryos if fertilized by sperm. They also make sex hormones.

Some people have their uterus and ovaries taken out at the same time. In some cases, one or both of the fallopian tubes are removed too.

Why is it done?

This surgery may be done to:

  • Treat cancer of the ovaries.
  • Treat severe endometriosis.
  • Treat problems with your ovary. These include a cyst, a growth, an abscess, and a twisted ovary.
  • Reduce your risk of cancer of the breasts or ovaries.
  • Affirm a person's gender identity as a part of gender-affirming surgery.

How is this surgery done?

The type of surgery you have depends on why you are having it done.

You may have:

  • Laparoscopic surgery. This type is done with very small cuts in your belly. The doctor then puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other special tools through the cuts in your belly.
  • Open surgery (laparotomy). With open surgery, the doctor makes a larger cut in the belly. It takes longer to recover from this surgery than from laparoscopy.
  • Vaginal surgery. In this surgery, the ovaries and uterus are taken out through the vagina. Doctors may use a laparoscope during the surgery.

What can you expect after surgery?

  • If you have laparoscopic surgery, you may go home the same day. If you have open surgery, you will stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days. You can expect to feel better each day. But you may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. It depends on which type of surgery you have and your overall health. You will need to avoid strenuous activity and lifting anything heavy while you recover.
  • If both ovaries are removed, you will start menopause if you haven't already. You may have symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy can help these symptoms.
  • If both ovaries are removed, you can only get pregnant with help from a medical procedure. If you want to use your eggs for a possible pregnancy in the future, talk to your doctor about your options before you have surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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