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Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian Cysts Quick Overview

  • Ovarian cysts are fairly common. They are fluid-filled sacs that form in or on a woman's ovaries.
  • Symptoms of ovarian cysts depend to a large extent on the size of the cyst. Many ovarian cysts produce no symptoms. Large or ruptured ovarian cysts can cause symptoms including pain, pelvic pressure or discomfort.
  • Vaginal (pelvic) ultrasound can be used to reveal the presence of ovarian cysts.
  • Ovarian cysts can vary in size. Many are very small, while cysts associated with ovarian tumors may be 12 inches or more in diameter.
  • In some cases ovarian cysts can cause problems with menstrual periods such as abnormal or irregular bleeding. Spotting (light bleeding) from the vagina can also occur due to some ovarian cysts.
  • Very rarely, cysts on the ovaries are part of ovarian cancers. Benign functional ovarian cysts do not cause cancer, and the vast majority of ovarian cysts are benign.
  • Some types of ovarian cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome and cysts related to endometriosis) may make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
  • Simple ovarian cysts (functional cysts) can sometimes be seen during pregnancy. Dermoid cysts and other types of cysts can also occur in pregnant women.
  • The sudden onset of severe pain is the characteristic symptom of a ruptured (burst) ovarian cyst.
  • Treatment of ruptured ovarian cysts involves medications for pain control. Ruptured dermoid cysts may require surgery due to irritation of the internal organs from the contents of the cyst.
  • Larger cysts may require surgery to remove the cyst or a biopsy to rule out cancer.

What Are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman's ovaries. Most cysts are harmless, but some may cause problems such as rupture, bleeding, or pain. Moreover, surgery may be required in certain situations to remove the cyst(s). It is important to understand the function of the ovaries and how these cysts develop.

What are the ovaries and what is their function?

Women normally have two ovaries that store and release eggs. Each ovary is about the size of a walnut, and one ovary is located on each side of the uterus. One ovary releases an egg each month, and this process is called ovulation. Ovulation occurs in roughly the middle of a woman's monthly menstrual cycle. The egg is enclosed in a sac called a follicle. An egg grows inside the ovary while estrogen (a hormone released by the ovary) prepares the uterus for a developing pregnancy. Estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to grow and thicken so as to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg resulting in a pregnancy. This cycle occurs each month. If the egg is not fertilized, the contents of the uterus are then expelled resulting in the onset of a menstrual period. The first day of bleeding is considered the first day of the ensuing menstrual cycle.

Who Gets Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are common and affect women of all ages. The vast majority of ovarian cysts are functional (i.e. they are a by-product of hormonal fluctuations that occur during a menstrual cycle). Although they may become problematic they do not indicate a specific disease process. Most ovarian cysts are not cancerous (benign), and many disappear on their own without treatment over the course of several weeks. While malignant cysts may be found in conjunction with ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts are typically not cancerous. Ovarian cysts most commonly occur during a woman's childbearing years.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Ovarian Cysts:

Ovarian Cysts - Treatments

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Ovarian Cysts - Symptoms

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Ovarian Cysts - Causes

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Ovarian Cysts - Experience

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Ovarian picture

Ovarian Cysts Symptoms

What are the Symptoms?

Most functional ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. The larger the cyst is, the more likely it is to cause symptoms. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain or aching in your lower belly, usually when you are in the middle of your menstrual cycle.
  • A delay in the start of your menstrual period.
  • Vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period.

SOURCE:
Healthwise


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Ovarian Cysts »

An ovarian cyst is a sac filled with liquid or semi-liquid material arising in an ovary.

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