Ovarian cysts are surprisingly common, especially during the reproductive years. In most cases, these fluid-filled sacs are nothing to worry about. But in some instances, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms or more serious complications.
Our team at Harbor Community Health Centers provides comprehensive gynecologic care and services at Pacific Avenue Center in San Pedro, California, helping women enjoy optimal health at every age. They want you to know about ovarian cysts, including their symptoms and treatment.
Most ovarian cysts form as part of the ovulation process. These cysts are called functional cysts, and it’s not uncommon to form one of these cysts every month when you ovulate. Functional cysts may form before or after an egg is released, and typically, they resolve on their own within the next two or three menstrual cycles.
Although less common, some cysts aren’t associated with the menstrual cycles. These include:
Ovarian cysts are rarely cancerous, but if a cyst forms after menopause, it may increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Most cysts cause no symptoms at all and resolve on their own. When a cyst is large, it can cause symptoms like:
Pelvic exams and ultrasound are routinely used to diagnose an ovarian cyst for women with symptoms. Your doctor may order other tests, like hormone evaluations or blood tests, to rule out other possible causes.
For cysts that don’t resolve, doctors typically recommend a couple of different treatment options. Pain relievers are a common recommendation for women with uncomfortable symptoms. If you have cysts regularly, hormone therapy might help reduce the number of cysts you have in the future.
Less often, doctors treat cysts with surgery. In most cases, surgical removal of a cyst is only recommended if the cyst:
After surgery, the cyst is examined to look for cancer cells — but don’t worry. Ovarian cysts are rarely cancerous.
Many women worry that a cyst might affect their ability to conceive or interfere with a healthy pregnancy. The truth is, cysts typically cause no problems with conception.
In rare instances, a cyst may cause some problems during delivery — not for your baby, but for you. When a cyst occurs during pregnancy, your doctor will watch it to make sure it doesn’t rupture during the birth process.
Women’s health care needs to change — sometimes dramatically — as they get older. Having a team of medical doctors you can count on is invaluable for your physical health and peace of mind.
To learn more about ovarian cyst treatment or schedule an exam, call Harbor Community Health Centers at 310-547-0202 today.