Open Oophorectomy: Before Your Surgery

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Female pelvic organs in lower belly, with close-up of uterus and ovaries.

What is an oophorectomy?

Oophorectomy (say "oh-uh-fuh-REK-tuh-mee") is a type of surgery. It removes 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.

This surgery can be done for many reasons. Your doctor may want to look for or remove ovarian growths or cancer. Sometimes the uterus and ovaries are taken out at the same time. And in some cases, one or both of the fallopian tubes are removed too.

You will be asleep during the surgery. To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your belly. This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor removes one or both of your ovaries and any growths that are seen. Next, the doctor closes the incision with stitches. The incision leaves a scar that fades over time.

Tissue samples from any growths that are found will be sent to a lab to check for cancer. This is called a biopsy.

Most people go home 2 to 3 days after surgery. You can expect to feel better each day. But you will probably need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

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.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
    Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
    The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.