Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets within or on the surface of an ovary. While they are a common occurrence and often part of the natural menstrual cycle, understanding these cysts is crucial for women’s reproductive health.

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Typically, ovarian cysts form during ovulation, the process in which an egg is released from the ovary. They are usually harmless and often disappear on their own within a few months. However, some cysts can cause symptoms and require treatment.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

  1. Functional Cysts: The most common type, including follicular cysts (formed when the follicle doesn’t rupture to release the egg) and corpus luteum cysts (formed after the egg is released).
  2. Dermoid Cysts: Contain tissue like hair, skin, or teeth.
  3. Cystadenomas: Develop on the surface of an ovary.
  4. Endometriomas: Associated with endometriosis, where uterine-like tissue grows outside the uterus.


Many ovarian cysts are asymptomatic. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Pelvic pain or discomfort
  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Causes and Risk Factors

Ovarian cysts can be caused by hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, pregnancy, severe pelvic infections, and previous ovarian cysts. Risk factors may include early menstruation, infertility treatment with gonadotropin medications, hormonal imbalance, and a history of ovarian cysts.


Ovarian cysts are often discovered during a routine pelvic examination. Further evaluation may involve:

  • Ultrasound: To determine the size, location, and composition of the cyst.
  • Blood Tests: To check for cancer markers (in some cases).
  • Pregnancy Test: To rule out pregnancy.


Treatment depends on the cyst type, size, and symptoms. Options include:

  • Watchful Waiting: Monitoring the cyst over time, especially if it’s small and asymptomatic.
  • Medication: Hormonal contraceptives may prevent the development of new cysts.
  • Surgery: In cases where cysts are large, causing symptoms, or potentially cancerous.