What Are Ovarian Cysts?

Cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, may form on one or both of a woman’s ovaries. They are relatively common and most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms, are not cancerous, and simply go away without treatment. In asymptomatic women, the physician may happen to find cysts on the ovaries during a routine pelvic exam or on an imaging test. Most are of little to no concern, but your physician should rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer through ultrasound and/or blood tests such as CA 125, a cancer antigen that may detect a malignancy in the ovaries.

In some cases, cysts may cause abdominal pain or situational pain. Should a cyst become large enough to twist the ovary, the pain may be sudden or intermittent. Those that bleed or burst often cause sudden, severe pain.



Types of Ovarian Cysts

  • Functional cysts, which are usually asymptomatic and resolve on their own within six to eight weeks. 
  • Teratoma, which is made up of different kinds of body tissues, such as skin and hair.
  • Cystadenoma, a benign tumor on the outside of the ovary that can grow quite large.
  • Endometrioma, which is a symptom of endometriosis .


Options for treating cysts depend on the type of cyst and other factors. In many cases, your physician will choose to monitor the cyst for changes in size or the patient’s symptoms. Should a cyst be unusually large or cause pain, discomfort or other symptoms, surgical removal may be considered.