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Alternative Names Return to topPhysiologic ovarian cysts; Functional ovarian cysts
Definition Return to top
An ovarian cyst is a sac filled with fluid that forms on or inside of an ovary.
Causes Return to top
Ovarian cysts may occur during the process in which an egg is released from the ovary (ovulation). During the days before ovulation, a follicle grows. But when ovulation is supposed to occur, the follicle fails to break open and release an egg, as it is supposed to do. Instead, the fluid stays in the follicle and forms a cyst.
Ovarian cysts are somewhat common, and are more common during a woman's childbearing years (from puberty to menopause). Ovarian cysts are rare after menopause.
No known risk factors have been found.
Functional ovarian cysts are not the same as ovarian tumors (including ovarian cancer) or cysts due to hormone-related conditions such as polycystic ovary disease.
Symptoms Return to top
An ovarian cyst can cause pain if it:
Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include:
Note: Often there are no symptoms.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor may order the following blood tests:
Treatment Return to top
Functional ovarian cysts usually don't need treatment. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) may help make cycles normal and decrease the development of functional ovarian cysts.
Simple ovarian cysts that are larger than 5 - 10 centimeters and complex ovarian cysts that don't go away should be removed with surgery (laparoscopy or exploratory laparotomy).
The doctor may recommend other treatments if a disorder, such as polycystic ovary disease, is causing the ovarian cysts.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Functional ovarian cysts usually disappear within 8 - 12 weeks without treatment. Some nonfunctional ovarian cysts must be treated to go away.
Possible Complications Return to top
Complications have to do with the condition causing the cysts. Complications can occur with cysts that:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of an ovarian cyst.
Prevention Return to top
If you are not trying to get pregnant and you often get functional cysts, you can prevent them by taking hormone medications (such as birth control pills), which prevent follicles from forming.Update Date: 2/19/2008 Updated by: Peter Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.