Oophorectomy is an operation to remove one or both the ovaries. In pre-menopausal women, removal of both ovaries will cause hormonal changes resulting in surgical menopause. Oophorectomy can be carried out either by laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) or laparotomy (making a cut in the abdomen). The former approach carries several benefits over the latter, and should therefore be the preferred option if possible.
Oophorectomy can be performed at the same time of another procedure such as hysterectomy (removal of the womb using any of the available routes — laparoscopy, laparotomy or vaginal) or alone as a planned operation because of an ovarian cyst or an ovarian accident (torsion).
Prophylactic oophorectomy is the removal of the ovaries for the potential benefit of preventing long-term morbidity and mortality. The term prophylactic means that the ovaries are normal at the time of surgery; however they are removed in an attempt to reduce the possibility to develop a future disease such as ovarian and breast cancer in certain high risk women.
Women who underwent bilateral oophorectomy (both ovaries removed) before reaching the menopause physiologically, usually have to take some sort of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to prevent other health conditions associated with the onset of menopause.