Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on the ovary which are usually not cancerous.

About Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in or on the ovaries, the structures in the female reproductive system where eggs are produced. Most ovarian cysts are not cancerous. More common complications of ovarian cysts include ovarian torsion in which the weight of the cyst causes the ovary to twist around and the cyst to rupture, which can be very painful. While cysts often go away on their own, these and other complications may require medical intervention.

Types of Ovarian Cysts:

Ovarian cysts are classified by their origin. The most common ovarian cysts are functional cysts, which are related to the menstrual cycle and should resolve within 1-3 cycles/months.

Types of functional ovarian cysts include:

  • Follicle cysts: Functional cysts that develop when the follicle, the ovarian structure in which eggs are formed, fails to release the mature egg inside during ovulation
  • Corpus luteum cysts: Functional cysts that form when the follicle does not shrink back to normal size after releasing a mature egg during ovulation
  • Hemorrhagic cysts: Functional cysts that contain bleeding; no immediate intervention is usually required

Cysts that are benign but not functional do not resolve within 1-3 menstrual cycles.

Types of non-functional ovarian cysts include:

  • Endometriomas: Cysts resulting from endometriosis, also known as chocolate cysts
  • Dermoid cysts: Cysts that can include hair, teeth, or other mature tissue
  • Serous or mucinous cystadenomas: Cysts originating in the epithelial tissue that lines organs
  • Serous cystadenofibromas: Cysts involving both epithelial tissue and connective tissue within the ovary
  • Tubo-ovarian abscesses: Lesions that form as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

Symptoms of ovarian cysts can vary, and many patients do not experience symptoms at all.

Symptoms of ovarian cysts may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Bladder or bowel issues
  • Dyspareunia (pain associated with sex)

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cysts

Certain people are at greater risk for developing ovarian cysts.

Risk factors for ovarian cysts may include:

  • Age: Ovarian cysts are more common among people who ovulate regularly, so the condition typically affects those who have not reached menopause. After menopause, cysts are more likely to be cancerous.
  • Comorbid conditions: People with endometriosis often develop a type of cyst called an endometrioma.
  • Health history: Ovarian cysts can form during pregnancy or result from certain pelvic infections.

Treating Ovarian Cysts

Pain medications or hormonal treatments can help you manage your ovarian cysts, which often go away on their own. If the cyst does not go away and/or causes pain, your condition may be addressed surgically by removing the cyst itself or the entire ovary. Minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic or robotic surgery, can reduce the pain and recovery time associated with these procedures. Your care team will work with you to determine the best course of treatment.

Care Team Approach

Patients are cared for by a dedicated multidisciplinary care team, meaning you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Our team of board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists, fellowship-trained subspecialists, pelvic floor physical therapists, advanced practice providers, and more work together to provide unparalleled care for patients every step of the way. We also work closely with referring physicians and other partners in the community to schedule and coordinate any additional care services you may need.

We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to deliver comprehensive, compassionate care and provide a seamless experience for women from adolescence to menopause and beyond.

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