Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is a surgical treatment that can trigger ovulation in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Electrocautery or a laser is used to destroy parts of the ovaries.
This surgery is not commonly used. But it can be an option for women who still don't ovulate after they lose weight and try fertility medicines.
Ovarian drilling is usually done through a small incision (laparoscopy), with general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a small incision in the belly at the belly button. The surgeon then places a tube to inflate the belly with a small amount of air. This lets the surgeon insert the viewing tool (laparoscope) without damage to the internal organs. The surgeon looks through the laparoscope at the internal organs. Surgical tools may be inserted through the same incision or other small incisions in the pelvic area.
You will likely go home the same day and can do your normal activities within 24 hours. Your return to normal activities will depend on how quickly you recover from surgery. It may take a few days or as long as 2 to 4 weeks.
Ovarian drilling is sometimes used for women with PCOS who still don't ovulate after they've tried weight loss and fertility medicine. Destroying part of the ovaries may restore regular ovulation cycles.
For women who do not respond to treatment with medicine, such as clomiphene, about 50% of them may be able to become pregnant after they have ovarian drilling surgery.1
Risks of the procedure include:
- Infection of the incision.
- Bleeding from the incision.
- Internal bleeding.
- Accidental injury to internal organs or major blood vessels. This can be from the laparoscope or surgical tools.
- Pain after the procedure, from inflating the belly with air.
- Problems caused by anesthesia.
- Adhesions or scarring inside the body.
Ovarian drilling may affect the number of eggs you have left or may cause early menopause. Talk to your doctor about these possible risks.1
- Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Induction of ovulation. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1293–1330. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology