Ovarian cysts are pockets of fluid that form on the surface of a woman’s ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common, and most women have one away on their own without treatment.
Ovarian cysts do not always cause symptoms. When they do, the symptoms can include loss of appetite, nausea, weight gain, frequent urination, breast tenderness or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen. They may also cause pain, particularly pelvic pain shortly before or after a period, during intercourse or during bowel movements.
Call the doctor right away if your pain is accompanied by fever or vomiting, if your abdominal pain is sudden and severe, or if you have cold, clammy skin, lightheadedness or rapid breathing, as these are all signs of a medical emergency.
Ovarian cysts are typically classified into various types based on their sources and causes. Functional cysts, for example, form during ovulation when an egg is not properly released from the follicle. Dermoid cysts form from cells that produce human eggs and may contain human tissue, teeth or hair. Endometriomas develop when uterine endometrial cells attach to an ovary and form a growth. Cystadenomas develop from ovarian tissue.
The most common treatment option for ovarian cysts is simply to wait and see. Since most cysts are not harmful and they tend to go away on their own within a few cycles, more invasive measures are generally not needed. Alternately, some doctors will prescribe birth control pill, which can inhibit the growth and formation of new ovarian cysts.
If these less invasive treatment methods do not prove effective, more invasive measures will be needed. Other, more invasive, treatment options for ovarian cysts do include surgery. These generally are not used unless the cysts are causing problems or refuse to go away on their own, however.