What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms on or inside an ovary. The ovaries are a pair of small, oval-shaped organs in the lower part of the women’s abdomen (belly). About once a month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. The ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These play roles in pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, and breast growth.
There are different kinds of ovarian cysts. They can occur for various reasons, they may need different treatments. A cyst can vary in size from half an inch to 4 inches, and sometimes even much larger.
Ovarian cysts are very common in women of all ages. Young girls can also get them, but this is less common.
How is an ovarian cyst diagnosed?
Your physician at Primary Women’s Health Center may diagnose the condition. Your physician will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. You will also have a physical exam. This will likely include a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, your physician may feel the swelling in your ovary. In women with no symptoms, this is often the first sign of a cyst.
If your physician thinks you may have an ovarian cyst, you may need tests. These can help your physician learn the type of cyst. Tests can also rule out other problems, such as ectopic pregnancy. The tests may include:
- Pregnancy test
- Blood tests
How is an ovarian cyst treated?
Treatment for an ovarian cyst will depend on the type of cyst, your age, and your general health. Most women will not need treatment. You may be told to watch your symptoms over time. An ovarian cyst will often go away with no treatment in a few weeks or months.
In some cases, you may need to have follow-up ultrasound tests. These are to check if your cyst has gone away or is not growing. You may not need any other treatment.
If your ultrasound or blood tests show signs of cancer, your physician may advise surgery. This is done to remove part or all of your ovary. Your physician might also recommend surgery if:
- Your cyst causes ongoing pressure or pain
- Your cysts appears to be growing
- You have a very large cyst
- You have endometriosis and want cyst removed to help with fertility