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(Follicular Cyst; Functional Cyst; Corpus Luteum Cyst)
by Laurie Rosenblum, MPH
An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled pocket in or on the ovary. These cysts are common. Many won't cause symptoms and will go away on their own, others may need care. There are different types of cyst based on where they develop or what material is in the cyst.
There are a variety of reasons an ovarian cyst may develop depending on the exact type of cyst.
Functional cysts are the most common type of ovarian cyst. It is normal for cysts to develop during the ovulation cycle. However, functional cysts remain or grow after they are no longer necessary. Types of functional cysts include:
Other, less common types of ovarian cysts include:
Some cysts can also be caused by pelvic infections.
Risk Factors TOP
Cysts are more common in women with regular monthly menstrual cycles, however women can still develop cysts after menopause. Other factors that may increase the risk of cysts include:
Most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. Cysts that are large or leak fluid may cause:
A cyst may become twisted or rupture. This can cause severe pain, nausea, vomiting, or bleeding that will require medical care.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A pelvic exam will also be done. Cysts are often found during routine pelvic exams. The doctor can determine factors like size that will help decide if more testing is needed.
Further testing may not be needed or may be delayed to see if the cyst goes away on its own. If the cyst is large, is not going away, or is causing severe problems recommended tests may include:
Many cysts will go away without treatment. For example:
If a cyst is found it may simply be monitored for any changes. For cysts that are causing problems, treatment will depend on factors like your age, menstrual status, type of cyst, and your symptoms. Treatment options include:
Cysts that are large, growing, solid, or remain longer than 2-3 menstrual cycles may be removed. Removal may also be needed for cysts that are causing severe bleeding or pain.
When possible the cyst will be removed and the ovary will remain intact. Sometimes the ovary will need to be removed, called an oophrectomy. Ovaries provide hormones that stimulate menstruation. If both ovaries are removed, menopause will begin immediately. Most surgeries for cysts can be done with laparoscopy. This surgery uses small incisions to reach the cysts to help decrease recovery time.
Twisted or ruptured cysts may require emergency surgery.
Cysts that develop in women over 40 years of age have a higher risk of developing into cancer. These cysts will be closely monitored for changes, or may be removed as precaution.
If you develop cysts often, talk to you doctor about ways to reduce your risk of new cysts.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office on Women's Health
Canadian Cancer Society
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Adnexal mass. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906835/Cyst-fluid-cytology. Updated May 10, 2017. Accessed December 12. 2017.
Ovarian cysts. US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/ovarian-cysts. Updated April 28, 2017. Accessed December 12. 2017.
Benign ovarian masses. Merck Professional Manual website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/benign-gynecologic-lesions/benign-ovarian-masses. Updated March 2017. Accessed December 12, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Karli-Rae Kerrschneider, RN
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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