Ovary removal surgery, also known as an oophorectomy, is surgery to remove one or both of your ovaries.

Private surgery for removal of ovaries
Preparing for ovary removal
What happens during surgery to remove an ovary?
Recovery and what to expect after ovary removal
Potential complications of ovary removal
Ovary removal surgery costs and fees

There are several different reasons why you might have your ovaries removed on an elective/planned basis. This includes if you have any of the following:

  • A benign (non-cancerous) ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts can often just be left, but in some cases you can surgery to remove only the cyst. In other circumstances your doctor may advise that the whole ovary is removed.
  • Ovarian cancer. You may need to have one or both ovaries removed, usually in addition to your fallopian tubes (called a salpingo-oophorectomy). Sometimes you may need your womb removed too (a hysterectomy).
  • Endometriosis or heavy periods. If you’re being offered a hysterectomy for these conditions, your surgeon may give you the option of having your ovaries removed at the same time.

If you have a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer or carry certain gene mutations that put you at high risk of these cancers, you may also decide to have your ovaries removed. This is known as a risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, which means both of your ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed. It will significantly reduce the chances that you’ll ever develop ovarian cancer.

Private surgery for removal of ovaries

You can have your ovaries removed privately or on the NHS. Either way, you’ll need a referral to a gynaecologist to discuss your care and treatment options. Depending on why you’re having your ovaries removed, you may be able to access treatment faster through private care. If you have health insurance, check whether ovary removal is covered.

The procedure itself is likely to be similar, whether it’s in the NHS or the private sector. Private healthcare facilities aim to offer comfort and privacy, as well as a greater choice of when and where you are treated.

Preparing for ovary removal

Your surgeon will want to discuss exactly what to expect from surgery with you. It’s important to bear in mind that removal of the ovaries will result in early menopause. This means that if they haven’t already, your periods will stop and infertility so you’ll no longer be able to have children. Your doctor will help you to weigh up all the benefits and risks of having the surgery, depending on your own circumstances. Depending on why you are having the procedure, it may be possible to only remove on ovary (unilateral oophorectomy).

If you’re able to, it can help with your recovery if you aim to be the best possible health before surgery. If you smoke, it’s best to stop before the operation. It’s also good to lose any excess weight if possible, and to maintain a healthy diet. Try to keep physically active before your operation too.

Ovary removal is usually carried out under general anaesthesia, which means you’ll be asleep during the procedure. You usually need to stop eating and drinking before a general anaesthetic – your doctor will tell you exactly when. Most people are able to go home on the same day or following a one night hospital stay. You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards and stay with you overnight.

What happens during surgery to remove an ovary?

Ovary removal is usually carried out through keyhole (laparoscopic) or robotic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery involves making small cuts, called ports, in your abdomen. In keyhole surgery, your surgeon carries out the surgery using instruments and a laparoscope (a tube with a camera) inserted into the ports. In robotic surgery, the surgery is done using a robotic arm, which your surgeon controls.

Your surgeon will locate your ovary (or ovaries, if both are being removed), and cut and tie off the surrounding ligaments and blood vessels. They’ll then remove the ovary or ovaries through one of the ports. The cuts will be closed with stitches or glue and covered with dressings.

Sometimes you may need to have the procedure via open surgery. This involves making a single, large cut into your abdomen to reach your ovaries.

Recovery and what to expect after ovary removal

You’re likely to have some pain and discomfort for a few days after your procedure. You can take painkillers to manage this. You might have a small amount of bleeding from your vagina in the first day or two. It’s good to get moving as soon as you can after your operation, as this can help to prevent blood clots.

You will probably feel more tired than normal while you recover from ovary removal. Make sure you take it easy and get plenty of rest. You can gradually build up your activity as you start to feel better. Most people feel well enough to return to work within two to three weeks – but you may be able to return sooner, depending on your job.

Your doctor will talk to you about dealing with menopause symptoms, if this is something likely to affect you. This might include taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Potential complications of ovary removal

All surgical procedures carry some risk of complications. Ovary removal is generally low-risk, but it’s important to be aware of potential complications. These include the following:

  • Infection.
  • Injury to blood vessels or nerves
  • Damage to one of your organs – such as your bladder or bowel
  • A blood clot developing in your leg

Your doctor will advise you about signs to look out for and when you should seek medical help.

Ovary removal surgery costs and fees

Ovary removal surgery is often available through private medical insurance. Check with your insurer whether they will cover it.

You can also choose to self-fund ovary removal. Typically, an initial consultation with the surgeon will cost between £175 and £225. Ovary removal costs in the UK vary depending on where you live. If you move forwards with the procedure, you’ll be offered one of the following:

  • An all-inclusive ‘package price’, where you know the full costs before undergoing treatment. Not all consultants and hospitals offer this.
  • A ‘fee-per-service’ arrangement, where you receive different invoices from the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the hospital. You often won’t know the full costs until you receive the invoices.

For more information, you can read our guide on self-pay.


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