The decision to retain or remove the ovaries and cervix at the time of hysterectomy is complex and controversial. We present a summary of the current literature on the risks and benefits of elective oophorectomy and subtotal hysterectomy to inform surgical decision making. There are no randomized trials of oophorectomy compared with hysterectomy and ovarian preservation. Observational studies have conflicting evidence on long-term health outcomes following oophorectomy. In contrast, there are high-quality randomized trials of subtotal versus total hysterectomy; there is a decrease in some short-term surgical complications for women who undergo subtotal hysterectomy, but no differences in long-term outcomes.