Most ovarian cysts in premenopausal women are small follicular or corpus luteum cysts (functional cysts) that go away within a few months, but they can become larger or rupture and cause pain. They’re benign and have no long-term medical complication—all women have follicular cysts that can go unnoticed.
If the cyst doesn’t go away or becomes large, your doctor may suggest treating it. We take a look at the different treatment options available.
Usually cysts will go away within one to three months, so the easiest option is to wait and see if it disappears naturally. If you don’t have any symptoms and an ultrasound shows that you have a small cyst, your doctor will most likely suggest that you get follow-up pelvic ultrasounds to monitor the cyst and see if it changes in size.
Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives, prescribed by your doctor, can stop ovulation and prevent new cysts from developing. This is usually suggested to treat women who have recurring ovarian cysts. Birth control also decreases the risk of ovarian cancer.
Surgical removal of a cyst is needed if it’s large, growing, doesn't look like a functional cyst, or remains through two or three menstrual cycles. Cysts that cause pain or other symptoms may also be removed.
- Laparoscopy: If your cyst is small and benign (non-cancerous), your doctor may recommend a laparoscopy to surgically remove it. The surgical procedure involves your doctor making a small incision close to your navel and then inserting a small instrument into your abdomen to remove the cyst.
- Laparotomy: Your doctor will surgically remove cysts that are larger in size through a large incision in your abdomen—an immediate biopsy will be conducted. If the cyst is determined cancerous, your doctor may perform a hysterectomy in order to remove your ovary and uterus. A laparotomy may also be recommended if a cystic mass grows on the ovaries after menopause.
Ovarian cysts can’t be prevented, but routine gynecologic physical examinations can identify them early—cysts that are determined to be benign will not become cancerous.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer, however, are similar to the symptoms of an ovarian cyst, so it’s important to see your doctor if you start to experience symptoms.
Symptoms that you should tell your doctor about include:
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Persistent pelvic pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal fullness