Ovarian cysts are a common women’s health problem. The cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. Most women may develop ovarian cysts every now and then, but they do not usually cause problems and they typically go away on their own after a few months. Some women develop a lot of ovarian cysts and have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. The vast majority of ovarian cysts are benign, but rare ovarian tumors can mimic the symptoms of an ovarian cyst.
Most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. However, a cyst can potentially cause severe pelvic or lower back pain, especially around or during your period, and menstrual irregularity. Symptoms such as morning sickness-like nausea, abdominal discomfort and other gastrointestinal symptoms can also occur.
An ovarian cyst can sometimes rupture. When this happens, it may cause severe pelvic pain. Some types of ovarian cysts may also cause internal bleeding when they rupture. Usually, surgical treatment is not necessary for a ruptured ovarian cyst, but it may be necessary if there are complications such as internal bleeding. If you have any sudden pelvic or abdominal pain, you should see a doctor.
Large, painful cysts may sometimes be surgically removed before they can rupture. The cyst may be removed and the rest of the ovary left intact. In some cases for large or multiple benign cysts, it makes sense to remove the affected ovary and leave the other intact. Smaller cysts are often treated just by monitoring their condition with regular ultrasounds and often with the prescription of birth control pills. Birth control pills are often an effective treatment for both polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and small, isolated ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts are common in women who are of childbearing age. After menopause, the development of ovarian cysts is rare and abnormalities of the ovaries are much more likely to be related to serious conditions such as ovarian cancer. If a cyst-like tumor is cancerous, both ovaries and the uterus are usually surgically removed.