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Ovarian Cysts Diagnosis and Treatments

How do I know if I have ovarian cysts? What are my treatment options?


Updated May 29, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?

Unless symptoms are present, ovarian cysts are typically diagnosed during an annual pelvic examination.

Other diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound and laparoscopy, may be done if your physician detects any abnormalities.

What are the Treatments for Ovarian Cysts?

Treatment of ovarian cysts depends on several factors, including:

  • the size and type of cyst
  • the woman's age and general health
  • her future pregnancy plans
  • what symptoms she is experiencing

The earlier ovarian cysts are found, the less invasive the treatment.

Often, young women who are not experiencing any symptoms are advised to wait two or three months to see if the cysts dissolve on their own. In most cases, functional ovarian cysts will dissolve without any medical intervention or treatment.

Occasionally, physicians opt to prescribe oral contraceptives or hormones to shrink functional ovarian cysts. (Functional cysts are rare in women who use oral contraceptives since this method of birth control prevents ovulation.) Oral contraceptives are not an effective treatment for other types of benign ovarian cysts, but they do offer some protection against malignant ovarian cysts (ovarian cancer).

Surgery is sometimes necessary to treat ovarian cysts that are unresponsive to hormonal treatment. Cases that could require surgery include ovarian cysts that do not disappear after a few menstrual cycles and extremely large cysts.

Ovarian cysts that are found in post menopausal women, cause symptoms such as severe pain or bleeding, or have become twisted often require a surgical procedure.

The specific surgical procedure required depends on a number of factors, but typically the earlier ovarian cysts are discovered, the less extensive the surgery. Surgery can involve anything from simply removing the cyst to removing the ovary. In some severe cases, a hysterectomy is recommended.

Although your physician will discuss the planned procedure with you, you should keep in mind that the exact extent of the surgery may be unknown until the operation is in progress.

Things to Remember About Ovarian Cysts

Because ovarian cysts often cause no symptoms, it is especially important for women who have previously had cysts to have regular pelvic examinations. Women who have previously had ovarian cysts are at a greater risk of developing further cysts.

In addition, endometriosis may be worsened by the presence of ovarian cysts, and your chance of needing to have your ovaries removed increases.

In the unusual case of malignant ovarian cysts, early treatment offers the best hope for recovery. Women who develop ovarian cysts after menopause are more likely to have malignancies.

Remember, if you experience any fullness, pressure, or discomfort in your pelvic region phone your physician immediately for his advice. The earlier ovarian cysts are discovered and treated, the better your chance of complete recovery.


Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts. Healthywomen.org. http://www.healthywomen.org/resources/womenshealthinthenews/dbhealthnews/healthtipsymptomsofovariancysts. Accessed 08/24/09.

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