An ovarian cyst is a fluid collection that forms in a woman’s ovary. Common during childbearing years, women may develop cysts that often resolve without pain or treatment. However, in some cases, ovarian cysts cause sharp or dull pain during certain activities like exercise or sexual intercourse. Others may rupture, which would require prompt and appropriate medical treatment. Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous) in some cases, cysts can be an indication of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cysts may be found during pelvic examinations. If an enlarged ovary if found, further testing may be suggested to determine the size and location of the cyst. A vaginal ultrasound may be performed where a transducer is inserted into the vagina and the shape, size, and location of the cyst may be seen. Exploratory laparoscopic surgery may also be used to diagnose as well as treat ovarian cysts in severe cases.
In most instances, ovarian cysts will shrink and disappear on their own. Taking hormonal birth control pills can reduce the likelihood of forming new cysts, but cannot remove existing cysts. In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or in women who are experiencing a large or painful cyst in their ovary, surgery may be the best course of action. The type of surgery is largely dependent on the size and type of the cyst, the age of the patient, and the patient’s desire to have children. In some cases, the cyst can be removed without removing the ovary, but in severe cases, one or both ovaries may have to be removed.