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Functional Ovarian Cysts (cont.)

Symptoms

Functional ovarian cysts usually are harmless, do not cause symptoms, and go away without treatment. Ovarian cysts are often discovered during a routine pelvic exam.

The larger the ovarian cyst is, the more likely it is to cause symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Frequent urination, if a large cyst is pressing against your bladder.
  • Abdominal (belly) pain.
  • Menstrual period changes.
  • Weight gain.

More severe symptoms may develop if the cyst has twisted (torsion), is bleeding, or has ruptured. See your doctor immediately if you have any of the following pain, shock, or bleeding symptoms:

  • Sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden faintness, dizziness, and weakness
  • Vaginal bleeding or symptoms of shock from heavy bleeding (hemorrhage)

There are many other conditions that cause signs or symptoms of a functional ovarian cyst. This is why it's important to have any unusual pelvic symptoms checked and to have regular annual pelvic exams.

What Happens

Most functional ovarian cysts cause no symptoms and go away without treatment in 1 to 2 months or after 1 to 2 menstrual periods. Some cysts grow as large as 4 in. (10.2 cm) in diameter before they shrink or rupture. A rupturing functional cyst can cause some temporary discomfort or pain.

What to think about

Functional ovarian cysts do not cause ovarian cancer. But your doctor must rule out other possible types of ovarian cysts or growths before diagnosing a functional cyst. This may involve another exam in 6 or 8 weeks, a pelvic ultrasound, or possibly a laparoscopy procedure to closely examine the cyst and its ovary.

Cysts after menopause. After menopause, ovarian cancer risk increases. This is why all postmenopausal ovarian growths are carefully checked for signs of cancer. Some doctors will recommend removing the ovaries (oophorectomy) when any kind of cyst develops on an ovary after menopause. But the trend in medicine seems to be moving away from surgery for small and simple cysts in postmenopausal women. In the five years after menopause, some women will still have functional ovarian cysts now and then. Some postmenopausal ovarian cysts, called unilocular cysts, which have thin walls and one compartment, are rarely linked to cancer.1

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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