Should the ovaries be removed or retained at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease?

Hum Reprod Update. 2010 Mar-Apr;16(2):131-41. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmp037. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


Background: Bilateral oophorectomy is commonly performed at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease. Indications for oophorectomy vary, but in most cases relatively little high-quality information is available to inform the surgeon or patient regarding the relative risks and benefits of ovarian conservation or removal. This review will address the common clinical situations when oophorectomy may be performed and will evaluate the evidence for risk and benefit in each of these circumstances. The aim of this review is to bring together the evidence regarding oophorectomy in pre- and post-menopausal women and to highlight the areas needing further study.

Methods: We searched the published literature for studies related to outcomes following surgical menopause, risk-reducing surgery for ovarian cancer, surgical treatment for endometriosis, bilateral oophorectomy for benign disease and treatment for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Results: Rates of oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease appear to be increasing. There is good evidence to support bilateral salpingoophorectomy (BSO) as a risk-reducing surgery for women at high risk of ovarian cancer, but relatively little evidence to support oophorectomy or BSO in other circumstances. There is growing evidence from observational studies that surgical menopause may impact negatively on future cardiovascular, psychosexual, cognitive and mental health.

Conclusion: Clinicians and patients should fully consider the relative risks and benefits of oophorectomy on an individual basis prior to surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy*
  • Menopause
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / etiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Ovariectomy* / adverse effects
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Uterine Diseases / surgery*