Understanding the Procedure for PCOS Surgery

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complicated hormonal disorder affecting many different body systems. Besides affecting your menstrual cycle and fertility, if you have PCOS, your risk for heart disease and diabetes are increased as well. If medications have not been successful, your healthcare provider may suggest having surgery as an option.

Doctor comforting patient in office
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While surgery was once the primary treatment for PCOS, it is extremely rare today as surgery has the potential to damage your ovaries. Before considering surgery, a number of medical treatments should be discussed or attempted. These include weight loss, birth control pills, spironolactone, and symptom management. Surgery as a treatment for fertility problems is only considered once these treatments are no longer effective or tolerated.

Treating PCOS With Surgery

The only surgical intervention used to treat PCOS: is laparoscopic ovarian drilling. Laparoscopic ovarian drilling uses electrocautery or a laser to destroy parts of the ovary. By destroying areas of the ovary, ovulation can be triggered.

There have been circumstances where some women have had regular menstrual cycles in the months following surgery and even some pregnancies. Generally speaking, the risk of adhesions or scar tissue on the ovary is far greater than the percentage of women who achieved a pregnancy after ovarian drilling.

Risks

As with any surgery, there are risks. Besides the risks associated with anesthesia, lower abdominal pain, bleeding, damage or scarring of the reproductive organs, and infection can occur following either procedure. To minimize these risks, select a doctor who has a lot of experience performing this procedure.

Before considering surgery, have a long discussion with your healthcare provider about why they feel surgery is appropriate. You should also ask your doctor what their experience using ovarian drilling is, how many times they've done the procedure, and what the success rates are.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and diabetes.

  2. National Health Service. Treatment: polycystic ovary syndrome.

  3. Lebbi I, Ben temime R, Fadhlaoui A, Feki A. Ovarian drilling in PCOS: is it really useful?. Front Surg. 2015;2:30. doi:10.3389/fsurg.2015.00030