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Ovarian Cysts

What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a sac or pouch filled with fluid or other tissue that forms in or on an ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common. They can occur during the childbearing years or after menopause. Most ovarian cysts are benign (not cancer) and go away on their own without treatment. Rarely, a cyst may be malignant (cancer).

What are different types of cysts?
Types of cysts include the following:
• Functional cyst - This is the most common type of ovarian cyst. It usually causes no symptoms. Functional cysts often go away without treatment within 6-8 weeks.
• Teratoma - This type of cyst contains different kinds of tissues that make up the body, such as skin and hair. This cysts may be present from birth but can grow during a woman's reproductive years. In very rare cases, some teratomas can become cancer.
• Cystadenoma - These cysts form on the outer surface of the ovary. They can grow very large but usually are begign.
• Endometrioma - This cyst forms as a result of endometriosis.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts?
In most cases, cysts do not cause symptoms. Many are found during a routine pelvic exam or imaging test done for another reason. Some cysts may cause may cause a dull or sharp ache in the abdomen and pain certain activities. Larger cysts may cause twisting of the ovary. This twisting usually causes pain on one side that comes and goes or can start suddenly. Cysts that bleed or burts also may cause sudden or severe pain.

How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
If your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional thinks that you may have cyst, the following tests may be recommended to find our more information:
Ultrasound exam - This test uses sound waves to create pictures of the internal organs. An instrument called a transducer is placed in the vagina or on the abdomen. The views created by the sound waves show the shape, size and location of the cyst. The views also show whether the cyst is solid or filled with fluid.
• Blood tests - You may have blood test that measures the level of a substance called CA 125. An increased level of CA 125, along with certain findings from ultrasound and physical exams, may arise concern for ovarian cancer, especially in a women who is past menopause. Several other blood tests also can be used to help identify whether a mass of the ovary is concerning for ovarian cancer.

How are ovarian cysts treated?
There are several treatment options for cysts. Choosing an option depends on the type of cyst and other factors. Treatment options include watchful waiting and, if the cyst is large or causing symptoms, surgery.