What is an oophorectomy?

An oophorectomy is when a surgeon removes one or both ovaries. The ovaries are the reproductive glands in women that make hormones to control the menstrual cycle and promote bone and heart health. Ovaries also contain and help grow eggs that can lead to pregnancy.

Why is an oophorectomy performed?

A surgeon may remove one or both of your ovaries for several reasons, including:

  • A disease known as endometriosis, when cells from inside the womb (uterus) travel and grow elsewhere.
  • Benign (non-cancerous) growths known as cysts.
  • Preventative surgery for patients with a high risk of cancer of the breast or ovaries.
  • Cancer of the ovary.
  • A condition known as torsion of the ovary. This condition happens when the ovary twists around the blood supply, causing severe pain.
  • An infection of the ovary or the area around it, also known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA).

What are the different types of oophorectomies?

Depending on the reason for your surgeon to remove an ovary, he or she may also recommend one of the following types of procedures:

  • Unilateral oophorectomy: Removing one ovary (one side).
  • Bilateral oophorectomy: Removing both ovaries (both sides).
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy: Removing the ovary and fallopian tube—the small organ that helps guide eggs from the ovary to the uterus.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Removing both fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy: Removing the uterus (hysterectomy) at the same time as removing one or both tubes/ovaries.

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