You have two ovaries, one on each side of your uterus. Your ovaries create and store eggs, and during ovulation — the time in your menstrual cycle where you can get pregnant — one of your ovaries releases an egg to be fertilized.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that often develop on your ovaries during your normal menstrual cycle. They’re generally harmless and noncancerous, but they can cause abdominal pain in some cases.
Farly Sejour, MD, FACOG, and our team at Solace Women's Care offer comprehensive gynecology services and diagnostic testing for ovarian cysts. If you’re experiencing pelvic pain or other symptoms, don’t wait to make an appointment with your OB/GYN.
Types of ovarian cysts
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs, and they can develop anywhere in the body. When they form on your ovaries, they’re called ovarian cysts. Among many different kinds of ovarian cysts, the most common are follicle and corpus luteum cysts.
Eggs grow inside small sacs called follicles. During ovulation, the mature egg breaks through the follicle. Sometimes, however, the follicle doesn’t open properly.
A follicle cyst forms when the follicle doesn’t break open and instead continues to grow. Follicle cysts generally don’t produce symptoms, and they go away on their own within a few months.
Corpus luteum cysts
When an egg is released from the follicle, the follicle shrinks into a small group of cells called corpus luteum. These cells make hormones in preparation for the next egg and the next menstrual cycle, but sometimes, the follicle sac doesn’t shrink.
The sac seals up again after the egg is released, trapping fluid inside and growing into a cyst. These cysts often disappear on their own, but they can grow much larger than other cysts and cause symptoms like pain or bleeding.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
As many as 1 in 10 women of reproductive age has a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS develops when a lot of small cysts form on the ovaries. It’s a chronic condition that can cause irregular periods and fertility problems.
Recognizing signs of ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are very common. Most of the time, they don’t cause any symptoms, and they eventually disappear on their own. But in some cases, ovarian cysts may trigger noticeable symptoms.
The most common signs of ovarian cysts include abdominal bloating, swelling, or pain. Cysts can rupture suddenly and cause intense abdominal pain. Large cysts can force an ovary to twist, causing pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Women with PCOS generally notice more symptoms than occasional abdominal discomfort. Signs of PCOS can include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Male-pattern hair growth
- Thinning head hair
- Unexplained weight gain
Ovarian cysts can cause a range of symptoms that are similar to other gynecologic conditions, so it’s important to seek a professional diagnosis to find out what’s behind your symptoms.
Treating ovarian cysts
If Dr. Sejour and our team identify ovarian cysts, we offer a range of treatments depending on the severity of your condition. Watchful waiting is a good option if cysts are noncancerous and aren’t causing unpleasant side effects.
Hormonal contraception may be a good treatment option for women bothered by recurring symptoms related to ovarian cysts. The hormones help regulate your menstrual cycle, and treatment may prevent ovarian cysts from developing.
Surgery may be recommended if you have a large cyst that’s continuing to grow or if cancer is present. Depending on your condition, we may perform surgery to remove only the cyst or the entire ovary.
Our women’s wellness team is here for you. Find out more about ovarian cyst treatment options with a consultation. Call our Conroe, Texas, office at 936-441-7100 or send us a message online to get started.