An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can form in the ovaries. The ovaries are two small organs that produce eggs and female hormones. The ovaries affect our body's appearance, menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
There are several types of ovarian cysts. The most common form of a cyst is a functional cyst. Functional cysts form during ovulation. Eggs that are produced each month are grown in tiny sacs called follicles. After these sacs release the egg, the sac dissolves turning into corpus luteum, which produces hormones. If the sac does not dissolve, a functional cyst will form from the sac and cause them to grow. Normally the cysts disappear within a few months. They are rarely cancerous but can cause mild symptoms.
Other types of cysts can form as a result of disease or from the egg not being released. These may be larger and more painful. While some ovarian cysts don't cause any symptoms, others may experience the following symptoms:
- Pressure, swelling or pain in the abdomen
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
- Weight gain
- Abnormal bleeding
Ovarian cysts can usually be diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam. An ultrasound or blood test may also be used to diagnose and determine the size and type of the cyst. Many cysts will go away on their own, so initial treatment may just be to wait and see if the size changes. Surgery to remove the cyst may be performed in those cysts that do not change or cause pain. If you think you have a cyst, schedule a pelvic exam with your doctor.