An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can grow on the ovaries. They’re very common and mostly harmless and usually disappear in a few months without treatment.
Some cysts on ovaries can cause symptoms, such as pain in the abdomen, bloating and irregular periods. Most ovarian cysts are a normal part of the menstrual cycle and shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
Large cysts or cysts causing symptoms may need to be surgically removed.
Ovarian cysts are very common to females with regular periods and most women make at least one cyst every month. Only about 8% of premenopausal women develop cysts that require treatment.
Cysts on ovaries are less common after menopause, however, they are at a higher risk to be cancerous.
Most ovarian cysts form during the menstrual cycle – these are known as functional cysts and are usually harmless and short-lived.
Normally, the ovaries grow cyst-like structures called follicles each month. Follicles produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone and release an egg when you ovulate.
If a normal monthly follicle keeps growing, it’s known as a functional cyst.
There are two types of functional cysts:
Other types of cysts can be benign but are much less common:
Some cysts on ovaries can be caused by abnormal cell growth or a condition such as endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining of the pelvis – learn more about endometriosis here.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes lots of small, harmless cysts to develop on your ovaries – learn more about PCOS here.
Usually, an ovarian cyst will only cause symptoms if it ruptures or is very large. The presence of a large ovarian cyst can make you prone to a rare emergency called ovarian rupture – if it’s not resolved, the ovary’s blood supply gets cut off abruptly, causing a potential loss of the ovary.
Most cysts don’t cause any symptoms and go away naturally, however, if it splits or is very large, you can experience these signs of ovarian cyst:
If you feel any ovarian cysts symptoms, speak to your GP, who may suggest an ultrasound scan to identify the cyst and show its shape, size and location.
To detect and examine ovarian cysts, you can have a consultation and an ultrasound scan with one of our gynaecologists here at The Evewell. We also do other tests, such as a hormone level test or blood test, called Cancer Antigen 125 (CA 125) – a tumour marker to assess the risk of ovarian cancer.
If you have any concerns, we are always ready to help and support you.
In most cases, ovarian cysts do not require any treatment as they go away naturally, however, you may require an ovarian cyst removal surgery if you are past menopause or your cyst on ovary:
If your cyst doesn’t require ovarian cyst removal, you will be recommended painkillers or, if you develop cysts on ovaries often, prescribed hormonal birth control to lower the chances of getting more cysts.
You will not have to wait long for a diagnosis and we will be able to advise a treatment and management plan designed around your needs.
We provide a full range of treatment options for ovarian cysts. Your doctor will discuss all these options with you and our experienced care teams will be on hand to provide sensitive support and aftercare.
Ovarian cysts don’t prevent women from getting pregnant naturally, however, it may sometimes be harder to conceive. If you have any illnesses that cause cysts on ovaries to form, such as endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, they could affect your fertility – learn more about how to increase fertility in women here.
Developing cysts on ovaries is also common during pregnancy – typically, these are non-cancerous and harmless. Ovarian cysts that continue to grow can rupture or cause problems during childbirth, however, your doctor will monitor any ovarian cyst found during pregnancy.