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When Do Ovarian Cysts Require Medical Attention?

Published on 09/22/22

Ovarian cysts are small sacs that form in your ovaries when an egg-producing follicle in an ovary doesn’t release an egg, but rather fills with fluid. In the vast majority of cases, these cysts are benign and resolve on their own over time and without treatment.

However, in some cases, ovarian cysts may require surgical removal. Cysts can also rupture, causing severe complications and warranting emergency surgical intervention. At Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine, your reproductive health is our top priority, so we want to ensure that you know when to seek treatment for your ovarian cysts.

Causes of ovarian cysts

Women with regular periods are the most at-risk for developing ovarian cysts. Certain factors place you at a higher risk, including:

  • Hormonal problems and hormonal-based medicines
  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic infections
  • Being in the early stages of pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Ovarian cysts aren’t as common following menopause. It’s important to note that if they do occur after menopause, you’re at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of ovarian cysts

If you have a common, benign cyst, you may not experience symptoms at all. If you do experience symptoms, they can include:

  • Light abdominal aching
  • Swelling or pressure in your abdomen
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Irregular periods

There are some ways that we can tell if an ovarian cyst becomes a problem that requires medical intervention, including when a cyst:

  • Causes acute pain
  • Presents as unusual in imaging tests
  • Grows or appears larger
  • Doesn’t resolve on its own after several menstrual cycles

Again, if you’re going through or have passed menopause, we treat your ovarian cyst as a condition that needs medical attention, simply because of the increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Treatment for ovarian cysts

Benign cysts usually disappear on their own over time over a period of about 1 to 3 months. Birth control pills or other types of hormonal birth control can help resolve cysts and prevent them from returning.

If a cyst requires removal, we recommend two kinds of surgery. When the cyst is small, we recommend a laparoscopy, which involves a lit instrument known as a laparoscope that we insert through small incisions near your belly button. The tool allows us to see and remove the cyst, and the smaller incisions mean a faster recovery.

A laparotomy involves a bigger incision and is used for larger cysts. After removal, a lab will test your cyst to determine if it’s cancerous. If it is cancerous, it may be necessary to have your ovary or other tissues from your uterus removed.

Although most ovarian cysts are benign, because of the seriousness of ovarian cancer, it’s important to seek treatment for them and to maintain regular reproductive care overall. If you’re noticing symptoms or have concerns about ovarian cysts, call us to make an appointment today.