Treatment depends on your age, the type and size of your cyst, and your
symptoms. Your doctor may suggest:
You can wait and be re-examined in one to three months if you are in
your reproductive years, you have no symptoms and an ultrasound
shows you have a simple, fluid-filled cyst. Your doctor will likely
recommend that you get follow-up pelvic ultrasounds at periodic
intervals to see if your cyst has changed in size. Watchful waiting,
including regular monitoring with ultrasound, is also a common
treatment option recommended for postmenopausal women if a cyst is
fluid-filled and less than 2 inches in diameter.
Your doctor may recommend birth control pills to reduce the chance
of new cysts developing in future menstrual cycles. Oral
contraceptives offer the added benefit of significantly reducing
your risk of ovarian cancer — the risk decreases the longer you take
birth control pills.
Your doctor may suggest removal of a cyst if it is large, doesn't
look like a functional cyst, is growing or persists through two or
three menstrual cycles. Cysts that cause pain or other symptoms may
be removed. Some cysts can be removed without removing the ovary in
a procedure known as a cystectomy. Your doctor may also suggest
removal of the one affected ovary and leaving the other intact in a
procedure known as oophorectomy. Both procedures may allow you to
maintain your fertility if you are still in your childbearing years.
Leaving at least one ovary intact also has the benefit of
maintaining a source of estrogen production. If a cystic mass is
cancerous, however, your doctor will advise a hysterectomy to remove
both ovaries and your uterus. After menopause, the risk of a newly
found cystic ovarian mass being cancerous increases. As a result,
doctors more commonly recommend surgery when a cystic mass develops
on the ovaries after menopause.
Although there's no definite way to prevent the growth of ovarian cysts,
regular pelvic examinations are a way to help ensure that changes in
your ovaries are diagnosed as early as possible. In addition, be alert
to changes in your monthly cycle, including symptoms that may accompany
menstruation that aren't typical for you or that persist over more than
a few cycles. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any concerns
relating to menstruation.
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