Ovarian Cyst FAQ

If you’ve been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, you may have some questions about what it is and how it is treated. In this article we’ll take a look at answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about ovarian cysts.

1. What is an ovarian cyst?

A cyst is a fluid filled sac that forms within the ovary. They can also be filled with gas or semi-solid substances depending upon the type of cyst.

2. How do cysts form?

Depending upon the type of cyst it can form in several different ways. The most common types of cysts are formed during ovulation.

Each month the ovary releases an egg. The egg is enclosed in a sac called a follicle. During your monthly cycle, estrogen is released to thicken the walls of the uterus and prepare it for the egg. The egg grows inside the follicle until your body signals it to be released.

After the egg is released if fertilization did not occur the lining of the uterus is shed, resulting in your monthly period.

Functional cysts, which are probably the most common type of ovarian cyst, are formed in one of two ways.

First, if the follicle sac doesn’t break open to release the egg, but instead keeps growing it can form a follicle cyst.

Corpus luteum cysts, the other type of functional cysts, are formed when the sac releases the egg but instead of dissolving it is sealed and fills with fluid. These types of cysts can grow to be large and painful, although they are very seldom cancerous.

3. How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?

Your doctor will usually perform an ultrasound to diagnose whether or not there is a cyst present.

4. How are they treated?

Doctors usually treat ovarian cysts in one of three ways.

First, they may have you wait and see if the cyst goes away on its own. Waiting can be painful depending on the size and location of the cyst, but many do go away on their own.

Second, they may prescribe birth control pills to prevent ovulation. This helps relieve the ovulation pain commonly associated with cysts.

Finally, they may recommend surgery to remove the cyst if it is large, painful or a certain type of cyst. Surgery is not without risks and should be considered as a last resort.