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MICHIGAN WOMEN'S HEALTH
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Julie Mladic, DO
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
Obstetrician/Gynecologist
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THE FACTS ABOUT Ovarian Cysts

Background

During a routine pelvic exam, your doctor tells you that you have a cyst on your ovary, but don't let the word cyst scare you. Developing an ovarian cyst is normal, and most cysts go away on their own, reports the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In fact, most women will have ovarian cysts at some point in their lives. Additionally, most of these cysts will be asymptotic and cause little or no discomfort.
However, there are times when a cyst may require treatment.
 

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In general, a cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can form anywhere in the body, including the ovaries. A woman can develop one or more ovarian cysts, and they can vary in size. Most ovarian cysts are benign, but some can be cancerous.

The most common type of ovarian cyst forms during a woman's menstrual cycle and is known as a functional cyst, according to the National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC). Functional cysts come in two varieties: follicular and corpus luteum.
When a woman is about to ovulate, her ovaries form tiny cysts that hold the eggs. When an egg breaks through a sac during ovulation, the sac usually dissolves. When it doesn't, the sac closes and fills with fluid, forming a corpus luteum cyst. Or if the egg never breaks through and keeps growing, a follicular cyst will develop.

SYMPTOMS
Many women who have functional ovarian cysts don't experience symptoms. But some cysts can grow as large as four inches and might bleed or twist the ovary and cause pain, says the NWHIC.
Symptoms of an ovarian cyst can also include:
*Pressure, fullness or pain in the abdomen
*Painful menstrual periods and abnormal bleeding
*A dull ache in the lower back and thighs
*Pelvic heaviness
*Pain during sexual intercourse

“If women experience sudden severe abdominal pain that is accompanied with nausea or vomiting, then they should seek immediate medical attention,” cautions SJMO obstetrician/gynecologist, Julie Mladic, DO.  



TREATMENT
The most common treatment for an ovarian cyst is no treatment at all. Most follicular cysts found on routine examination resolve spontaneously in one to two months. Asymptomatic simple cysts less than 6 cm on ultrasound examination can be observed. Women who have not reached menopause and have no symptoms are often told to wait and see what happens. In most cases, ovarian cysts go away on their own.

However, if you have a fluid-filled cyst that is increasing in size, generally greater than 6 cm, or is symptomatic, then a laparoscopy cystectomy is generally required. Additionally, if after several menstrual periods a woman still has a cyst or it has gotten larger or is causing pain, then treatment such as surgery to remove the cyst, may be necessary.

However, recent innovations allow for the removal of ovarian cysts to be an easier procedure for patients. Many obstetrician/gynecologists are now using a laparoscope—a thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues and organs inside the abdomen. Laparoscopic surgery allows for smaller incisions, less anesthesia, fewer risks and quicker recovery time.  An ultrasound along with blood tests may also be a useful tool to confirm a diagnosis.

REFERRAL
To find an SJMO obstetrician/gynecologist near you, please call 800.372.6094.
 

 

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