During your menstrual cycle, it is common for one or more small cysts to form on one or both ovaries. A cyst is a benign, fluid-filled sac or pouch that can vary in size. They are quite common in women during childbearing years and often go away on their own. In some cases, cysts may cause problems and require treatment.
There are many different types of ovarian cysts. While most cysts are benign (not cancerous), a few cysts may turn out to be malignant (cancerous). For this reason, all cysts should be checked by your doctor.
Some types of ovarian cysts include:
Most ovarian cysts are small, do not cause symptoms, and go away on their own. However, some cysts may cause symptoms because of twisting, bleeding, or rupture. You may experience a dull or sharp ache in the abdomen and pain during sexual intercourse.
Though most ovarian cysts are benign, some may be cancerous; therefore, it is important to have your doctor monitor any cyst. While ovarian cancer is very rare in young women, the risk does increase with age. Because ovarian cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages, you should be aware of its warning signs and see your doctor if you have any of these signs:
An ovarian cyst is often found during your annual pelvic exam. When your doctor detects an enlarged ovary, other tests may be ordered to determine the cause. These may include an ultrasound to see a picture of your pelvic organs, a laparoscopy to look directly at your pelvic organs, or blood tests to measure substances in your blood. Each of these tests can help confirm whether or not you have an ovarian cyst.
If your cyst is not causing any problems, your doctor will most likely simply monitor it for a few months since many cysts go away on their own. If your cyst is large or is causing symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgery. The extent and type of surgery recommended will depend on several factors:
In some cases, removing a cyst cannot be done without removing your ovary. Your doctor will talk with you about this possibility prior to surgery.