Women's Health

Women's Health

Ovarian cysts

Most ovarian cysts that form are related to ovulation and can be normal to have. These types of cysts are called functional ovarian cysts.

A functional ovarian cyst is a sac that forms in or on the ovaries during or after ovulation. This sac holds a maturing egg prior to possible fertilization. Usually the sac just dissolves after releasing the egg.  If it does not dissolve, it can form a cyst. Most cysts are harmless and are not cancerous. They do not cause symptoms and often go away without treatment. But some cysts do need to be treated, especially if they become large, painful, and cause bleeding.

Causes of ovarian cysts

There are 2 main reasons why an ovarian cyst may form:

  • The sac doesn’t break open to release the egg and fills up with fluid (this is called a Follicular cyst)
  • The sac releases an egg but fails to dissolve; instead it seals up and fills with fluid (this is called a luteal cyst)

Symptoms of ovarian cysts

Most ovarian cysts don’t cause symptoms. But if a cyst become large, it can twist and rupture and cause symptoms which can include:

  • Pain, pressure, or achiness in your lower abdomen, sometimes with nausea or vomiting (usually between your periods)
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during sex

Call your doctor right away, especially if you have pain or bleeding.

Diagnosing ovarian cysts

Most ovarian cysts are found during a routine pelvic exam. If you have bothersome symptoms, your doctor may do a pelvic exam or ultrasound to check for ovarian cysts.

Treating ovarian cysts

Most ovarian cysts go away without treatment. But treatments for severe symptoms can include:

  • Surgery to remove the cyst
  • Birth control pills to stop you from ovulating and prevent new cysts from forming
  • Medication to relieve pain
  • Heat

Rarely, some ovarian cysts are not functional cysts and can be a sign of ovarian cancer. Cysts that may be cancerous are those that do not go away over time or occur during menopause. Ask your provider what he/she recommends to monitor or treat suspicious ovarian cysts.