Ovarian cyst

Last updated date: 19-Oct-2022

Originally Written in English

Ovarian Cyst

Ovarian cyst occurs when fluids buildup in the thin membrane within the ovary. The cyst is the sacs or pockets-like structure within or on the surface of the ovary. On both sides of the uterus, females have two ovaries. Each ovary is about the shape and size of the almond. Eggs or ova grow and mature inside the ovaries during the reproductive years and are discharged in monthly cycles. 

Generally, ovarian cyst affects most women at some point in their lives. The majority of ovarian cysts cause little or no pain and are harmless. In most cases, they disappear on their own after a few months, even without any treatment. 

An ovarian cyst, particularly those that rupture, can, however, lead to severe symptoms. Having regular pelvic checks and watching out for the symptoms that could indicate a significant problem helps protect your health. 


Types of Ovarian Cyst

There are different ovarian cyst types, including dermoid cysts and endometrioma cysts. Functional cysts, on the other hand, are the most prevalent form. 

Each month, the ovaries form cyst-like structures known as follicles. During ovulation, the follicles release an egg and generate estrogen and progesterone. A functional cyst develops when a normal monthly follicle continues to grow.

The two categories of functional cysts are; 

  • Follicle cyst

An egg matures in a sac known as a follicle during the menstrual cycle in women. This sac is found within the ovaries. Usually, this follicle or sac ruptures open, hence releasing an egg. The fluid in the follicle might form a cyst on the ovary if the follicle fails to break open.

  • Corpus luteum cysts

Follicle sacs usually disintegrate once an egg is released. However, if the sac fails to dissolve and the follicle's entrance shuts, more fluid can accumulate in the sac, resulting in a corpus luteum cyst. 


Signs and Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst

Signs and Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst

An ovarian cyst is not usually associated with any symptoms. But as the cyst enlarges, the symptoms may begin to appear. The following signs and symptoms can emerge as a result of a large ovarian cyst: 

  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain in the pelvic area before or during menstruation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the thighs or lower back
  • Soreness in the breasts
  • Vomiting or nausea

The following are severe ovarian cyst symptoms that necessitate prompt medical attention:

  • Pelvic pain that is sharp or severe
  • Fever 
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Breathing quickly

A burst cyst or an ovarian torsion might cause these symptoms. If not addressed promptly, both problems might have severe complications. 

In addition, polycystic ovarian syndrome is a disorder that can cause certain long-term symptoms. This hormonal disorder leads to irregular periods and other hormonal-related issues such as infertility and obesity. Hirsutism (excessive body hair growth) and trouble cutting weight are some of the symptoms associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome. 


Causes of Ovarian Cyst

The actual causes of an ovarian cyst are unknown. However, the following risk factors can increase your chances of developing an ovarian cyst:

  • Hormonal disorders: Using the fertility medicine clomiphene (Clomid) that makes you ovulate can increase your ovarian cyst risk. 
  • Endometriosis: Uterine endometrial cells develop out of the uterus in this condition. Some tissues may stick to the ovary and grow into a tumor. 
  • Pregnancy: The cyst which normally forms during ovulation might sometimes persist on the ovary in the duration of your pregnancy.
  • A serious infection in the pelvis: Cysts might form if the infection progresses to the ovaries.
  • An ovarian cyst that occurred in the past: You're more prone to develop another ovarian cyst if you've already had one. 


Ovarian Cyst Diagnosis 

During a pelvic examination, the doctor or gynecologist can discover a cyst on your ovary. He or she may then suggest more testing to identify the type and if you require treatment. This will depend on the size and whether it is filled with fluid, solid, or both. 

Your doctor can thus recommend the following tests and procedures for ovarian cyst diagnosis;

Pregnancy test: In most cases, you will undergo a pregnancy test. A positive result may indicate the presence of a corpus luteum cyst.

Pelvic ultrasound: This test involves a wand-like instrument (transducer) that transmits and gets high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound). Hence, it generates a comprehensive image of the ovaries and uterus. The doctor then examines the image to establish whether a cyst exists, where it is located, and if it is solid, fluid-filled, or mixed. 

Laparoscopy: The doctor can view the ovaries and eliminate the ovarian cyst using a laparoscope during a laparoscopy. A laparoscope is a thin, illuminated device put inside the abdomen via a small incision. Laparoscopy is typically a surgical technique that necessitates the use of an anesthetic. 

CA 125 blood test: In women who have ovarian cancer, blood levels of the protein known as cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) are frequently high. Therefore, the doctor may suggest this test if the cyst is partly solid and at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Noncancerous diseases, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease, can cause high levels of CA 125. 


Ovarian Cyst Treatment 

Ovarian cyst treatment can vary from one person to another depending on; 

  • The age of the patient 
  • The appearance and size of the cyst
  • Whether or not you have started your menopause 
  • The presence or absence of symptoms 

Your gynecologist can thus recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options; 

  • Watchful waiting

In most circumstances, you may have to wait and undergo re-examination after a few weeks or months to check if the cyst has disappeared. If there is no symptom and the ultrasound reveals a small, fluid-filled cyst, watchful waiting is usually an option despite age. 

The medical provider may suggest that you get periodic pelvic ultrasounds to check if your cyst grows or shrinks. 

  • Medication

Your medical provider may prescribe hormonal contraceptives to prevent an ovarian cyst from returning, including birth control pills. Birth control drugs, on the other hand, will not shrink an already existing cyst.

  • Surgical procedures 

If you have any of the following symptoms, your doctor may recommend ovarian cyst removal through surgery:

  • There are signs and symptoms
  • If the cyst is large or seems to be expanding
  • The cyst does not appear to be a functional cyst
  • The cyst lasts for two to three menstrual cycles.

There are two types of surgery for ovarian cyst including; 

Laparoscopy: The surgeon can conduct a laparoscopy to take the ovarian cyst if it’s small and rule out a tumor from imaging test results. Your surgeon will create a small incision around the navel and then remove the ovarian cyst using a tiny device inserted into the abdomen. 


Laparotomy: The doctor may perform a laparotomy for women with a bigger cyst to surgically take it out through a major incision in the belly. Immediately, he or she will conduct a biopsy to remove a small tissue sample. If the cyst turns out to be cancerous, the doctor will remove the uterus as well as ovaries through a hysterectomy procedure. 


Can you Prevent Ovarian Cyst?

An ovarian cyst is generally unavoidable. In most cases, the cyst can be detected early through regular gynecologic exams. Benign ovarian cysts cannot become malignant. 

The symptoms of ovarian cancer, on the other hand, can sometimes be mistaken for those of ovarian cyst syndrome. As a result, it's critical to consult your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Also, notify your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Alterations in your menstrual cycle
  • Persistent pelvic discomfort 
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Weight loss that isn't explainable
  • Fullness in the stomach


Complications of an Ovarian Cyst 

Most ovarian cysts are noncancerous and usually disappear with time without any remedy. There are few, if any, signs and symptoms associated with these cysts. A malignant cystic ovarian mass may be discovered during a regular checkup in a relatively small percentage of cases. 

Another uncommon ovarian cyst consequence is ovarian torsion. The ovary tends to twist or shift from the initial position as a result of a big cyst. The ovary's blood supply is restrained, and if not addressed sooner, the ovarian tissue can be damaged or even die. Ovarian torsion constitutes about 3% of emergency gynecologic procedures, despite its rarity. 

Ruptured or burst cysts, which are also uncommon, can cause excruciating discomfort and internal bleeding. If left untreated, this problem can increase the likelihood of an infection and can be fatal. 



An ovarian cyst refers to the fluid-filled sac that forms in or on one of the ovaries. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the majority of them being harmless (noncancerous). Ovulation can cause functional cysts, which aren't associated with any disease. Even without treatment, functional cysts usually shrink with time, normally in 60 days or less.

If you experience any symptoms that might indicate an ovarian cyst, consult your medical provider right away. He or she will be able to tell you what form of cyst you have and recommend proper treatment.