Side Effects and Risks of Oophorectomy

Bilateral oophorectomy, or the surgical procedure to have both ovaries removed, is frequently performed during the same surgery as a hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy is a procedure where both the uterus and the ovaries are removed. 

Illustration of ovarian cancer
Lars Neumann / Getty Images

Many women elect to keep the ovaries, as the surgical removal of both ovaries causes the body to immediately go into menopause with all of the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, night sweats, changes in mood, hair loss, decreased metabolism and weight gain, and dry skin.

Menopause can lead to other changes in the body. After menopause, women are more likely to develop heart disease, urinary incontinence, and osteoporosis. Some women choose to keep their ovaries to avoid premature menopause, and the conditions that often develop after menopause is complete.

When to Have an Oophorectomy

In some cases, the ovaries must be removed for the health of the patient, particularly in cases where ovarian cancer is present. Women with strong family histories of ovarian cancer often elect to have the ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer from having the opportunity to develop.

In other cases, the removal of the ovaries is elective, meaning it is a choice the patient and surgeon make based on the patient’s medical history, health and family history.

Before having an elective oophorectomy, it is important to understand the general risks of surgery, as well as risks and side effects that are unique to this procedure. It is important to discuss your unique medical history and your wishes with your surgeon prior to making your final decision to have this procedure.

Side Effects

Besides the general side effects of surgery that individuals experience during their recovery such as risk of infection, oophorectomy causes:

  • Sterility
  • Menopause, including hot flashes/night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, and other symptoms

If you are having an oophorectomy despite your desire to have children, you may want to consider preserving your eggs. While you would not be able to bear children after a hysterectomy, this procedure would allow a surrogate to carry your biological child. 


  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of dementia, vascular problems, and neurological problems due to earlier menopause

A Word From Verywell

Prior to having any procedure, it is important to know the potential risks and complication. All procedures have risks, so the potential benefit should outweigh the potential for problems when choosing to have a procedure. If you choose to move forward with surgery, the focus shifts to prevention of those complications wherever possible. For example, the risk of blood clots is much higher after surgery in the patient who smokes, so stopping smoking prior to surgery will help prevent complications.

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Article Sources
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  • Removal of Ovaries During Hysterectomy May Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Premature Death.

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Elective and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); January2008.