Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs arising from the ovaries which can vary in size. Physiological or functional cysts are formed when the eggs fail to ovulate. A woman may have ovarian cysts at some point in her life. Most of these cysts present little to no discomfort (asymptomatic) and some may resolve spontaneously.
Pathological cysts are cysts which are not related to the menstrual cycle. In some cases, these cysts may cause problems such as abdominal distension and pelvic pain. For example, when a cyst becomes too large or ruptures or twists (torsion), it can cause sudden severe pain in the lower abdomen.
Most ovarian cysts are benign but some may become cancerous over time. These cancerous cysts will have to be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Treatment of ovarian cysts varies according to a woman’s age, the size of the cyst and the appearance of cyst on the ultrasound. If the cyst is not causing any pain, simple observation with serial ultrasound scans and blood tests for evaluation is sufficient. However, if a patient experiences severe pain because of the cyst, it needs to be surgically removed. The malignant (cancerous) potential of the cyst can then be determined after removal to see if further adjuvant therapy is necessary.