Thinking About 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.
What to think about when you decide
Sometimes there is a health reason to have your ovaries removed. Maybe you have a tumor on an ovary. Or maybe you're at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer. You may be able to choose whether to have one, both, or part of your ovaries removed based on what you prefer and your health condition. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Some reasons to have your ovaries removed
- It almost always prevents cancer of the ovaries. This cancer isn't common. But it's something that you may want to think about.
- You won't need surgery later for problems with your ovaries. For instance, sometimes growths happen on the ovaries later in life. This doesn't happen very often. But it won't happen to you if you don't have ovaries.
- If you are having gender-affirming surgery, you may choose to have your ovaries removed.
Some reasons to keep your ovaries
- You want to use your eggs for a future pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about your options if you plan to have both ovaries removed and want to use your eggs for a possible pregnancy in the future.
- You can avoid sudden menopause. This happens if you haven't gone through menopause yet when your ovaries are removed. It can cause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. But you can take medicines for these symptoms.
- Your bones may stay strong. Having your ovaries removed may lead to more fragile bones. But you can take medicine to prevent this.
- Having your ovaries removed may raise your risk for some long-term health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. These risks may be higher for people who have their ovaries removed when they are younger. The benefits of keeping your ovaries go down as you age. Talk to your doctor about what's best for you.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology