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Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are very common, and chances are you’ve had an ovarian cyst at some point in your life – and probably never even knew it!  In most cases, ovarian cysts do not cause pain and other symptoms and will disappear on their own.  So, what exactly is an ovarian cyst? 

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow on or in the ovary.  These cysts can vary in size from half a centimeter to over 10 centimeters long.  Women who are menstruating often develop at least one cyst a month.  Cysts tend to be less common after menopause.

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An ovarian cyst is more likely to cause pain if it:

  • Becomes large
  • Bleeds
  • Breaks open
  • Interferes with the blood supply to the ovary
  • Is twisted or causes twisting (torsion) of the ovary

Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include:

  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Pain in the pelvis shortly before or after beginning a menstrual period
  • Pain with intercourse or pelvic pain during movement
  • Pelvic pain — constant, dull aching
  • Sudden and severe pelvic pain, often with nausea and vomiting (may be a sign of torsion or twisting of the ovary on its blood supply, or rupture of a cyst with internal bleeding)Pelvic pain and discomfort
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Causes of Ovarian Cysts

Hormones. Drugs that help with ovulation can cause cysts. Hormonal problems can trigger them too. Most hormone-related cysts go away on their own. 

Pregnancy. A cyst usually develops early in pregnancy. It’s there to help support the pregnancy before the placenta forms. 

Endometriosis. Women with this condition can develop cysts called endometriomas. This type of cyst can cause pain during menstruation and sex. 

Severe pelvic infection. Cysts can form when infections spread to the ovaries and fallopian tubes. 

A common misconception is that ovarian cysts are cancerous or can be caused by cancer.  Most ovarian cysts are benign and do not increase the risk of ovarian cancer in women.

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