Often times, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms. However, symptoms can appear as the cyst grows. Symptoms may include:
abdominal bloating or swelling
painful bowel movements
pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
pain in the lower back or thighs
nausea and vomiting
Severe symptoms of an ovarian cyst that require immediate medical attention include:
severe or sharp pelvic pain
faintness or dizziness
These symptoms can indicate a ruptured cyst or an ovarian torsion. Both complications can have serious consequences if not treated early.
Your doctor can detect an ovarian cyst during a routine pelvic examination. They may notice swelling on one of your ovaries and order an ultrasound test to confirm the presence of a cyst.
Imaging tools used to diagnose ovarian cysts include:
CT scan: a body imaging device used to create cross-sectional images of internal organs
MRI: a test that uses magnetic fields to produce in-depth images of internal organs
ultrasound device: an imaging device used to visualize the ovary
Because the majority of cysts disappear after a few weeks or months, your doctor may not immediately recommend a treatment plan. Instead, they may repeat the ultrasound test in a few weeks or months to check your condition.
If there aren’t any changes in your condition or if the cyst increases in size, your doctor will request additional tests to determine other causes of your symptoms.
pregnancy test to make sure you’re not pregnant
hormone level test to check for hormone-related issues, such as too much estrogen or progesterone
CA-125 blood test to screen for ovarian cancer
Your doctor may recommend treatment to shrink or remove the cyst if it doesn’t go away on its own or if it grows larger.
If you have recurrent ovarian cysts, your doctor can prescribe oral contraceptives to stop ovulation and prevent the development of new cysts. Oral contraceptives can also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer. The risk of ovarian cancer is higher in postmenopausal women.
If your cyst is small and results from an imaging test to rule out cancer, your doctor can perform a laparoscopy to surgically remove the cyst. The procedure involves your doctor making a tiny incision near your navel and then inserting a small instrument into your abdomen to remove the cyst.
If you have a large cyst, your doctor can surgically remove the cyst through a large incision in your abdomen. They’ll conduct an immediate biopsy, and if they determine that the cyst is cancerous, they may perform a hysterectomy to remove your ovaries and uterus.