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Ovarian Cysts

While most ovarian cysts are benign, if you are experiencing abdominal pain, you could have a cyst in need of checking. The doctors at Winnie Palmer Hospital are here to help you resolve any gynecological problems with expertise and compassion.

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms on one of a woman’s two ovaries. They often develop during ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg each month.

Ovarian cysts are usually harmless with no symptoms. However, sometimes an ovarian cyst can cause abdominal pain, swelling, painful bowel movements, and pain during sex.

Causes of Ovarian Cysts

The most common causes of ovarian cysts include:

  • Hormonal problems or medications used to help you ovulate.
  • Endometriosis — Women with endometriosis can develop a type of ovarian cyst that can be painful during sex and during your period.
  • Pregnancy — An ovarian cyst normally develops in early pregnancy to help support the pregnancy until the placenta forms. Sometimes, the cyst stays on the ovary until later in the pregnancy and may need to be removed.
  • Severe pelvic infections — Infections can spread to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and cause cysts to form.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Detection of an ovarian cyst starts with a pelvic exam. Further tests may include:

  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create images of the body, allowing your doctor to see where and how big the cyst is.
  • Pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy.
  • Hormone level tests to see whether there are hormone-related problems.
  • Blood test to determine if you may have ovarian cancer.

If the cyst doesn’t go away on its own or if it grows larger, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:

  • Birth Control Pills — to stop ovulation and prevent the development of new cysts.
  • Laparoscopy — to surgically remove a small cyst through a small incision in your abdomen.
  • Laparotomy — to surgically remove a large cyst through a large incision in your abdomen, followed by a biopsy to determine if the cyst is cancerous.

Your gynecologist at Winnie Palmer Hospital will provide you the most up-to-date information, options and treatment to get you back to optimal health.