Ovarian Cysts

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Ovarian cysts are common in most women with regular periods and most of the time come and go without any symptoms. But sometimes, cysts can grow large, rupture or twist and can cause sudden, severe pain. The physicians at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating symptomatic ovarian cysts, helping women overcome symptoms and enjoy optimal health.

What are ovarian cysts?

Ovarian cysts are sacs or pouches filled with fluid or other tissue that forms in or on an ovary. They are very common and usually go away on their own without any treatment.

There are four main types of ovarian cysts:

  • Functional cysts: Functional cysts may sometimes cause pain, but they usually have no symptoms and go away without treatment.
  • Teratoma: This type of cyst contains skin, hair and other bodily tissues and can be removed with a simple procedure. Very rarely, teratomas can become cancerous.
  • Cystadenoma: These cysts form on the outside of the ovary. They can get to be very large and usually won’t go away without treatment, but they are usually benign (not cancerous).
  • Endometrioma: Sometimes called ‘chocolate cysts,’ because they are filled with a dark brown fluid consisting of old menstrual blood and tissue. They are not cancerous, though they usually mean that a person’s endometriosis is severe enough to complicate their fertility.

What is the difference between ovarian cysts and PCOS?

In some women, the ovaries make many small cysts. This is called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can cause problems with the ovaries and with getting pregnant. The most significant difference between ovarian cysts and PCOS is that PCOS results in a substantial hormonal imbalance, which is not generally the case with ovarian cysts. It is also possible for women to have multiple ovarian cysts without suffering from PCOS.

How do I know if I have an ovarian cyst?

Most ovarian cysts don’t cause symptoms. However, a large cyst may cause symptoms such as pelvic pain or bloating. If a cyst ruptures or twists, you may experience sharp, severe abdominal or pelvic pain that comes on suddenly.  If you experience sudden sharp pain along with a fever, vomiting, or other signs of shock, you should seek medical care immediately.

How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?

Your physician at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare may discover an ovarian cyst during a routine pelvic exam. If they detect an unusual growth or suspect you may have an ovarian cyst, they may take additional tests, such as:

  • Ultrasound imaging test
  • Blood tests
  • Pregnancy test 

How are ovarian cysts treated?

Treatment prescribed by your doctor at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare depends on your age and symptoms, as well as the type and size of your cyst. The most common approaches include:

  • Watchful Waiting: Watchful waiting is the most common option, especially if you have no symptoms and an ultrasound shows that you have a simple, small, fluid-filled cyst. Follow-up ultrasounds at specific intervals help your doctor monitor cyst changes.
  • Medication: While hormonal contraceptives, like birth control pills, help keep your ovarian cysts from recurring, they won’t shrink an existing cyst.
  • Surgery: Surgery helps with large cysts that continue to grow through two or three menstrual cycles, don’t look like functional cysts, and cause you pain.

Diagnosis and treatment for ovarian cysts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In most cases ovarian cysts are not a medical emergency. If you have unusual pelvic pain or irregular bleeding, schedule an appointment with your physician at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare for an evaluation. Our physicians expertly diagnose and treat the full range of gynecological health issues, including ovarian cysts, so that you can continue living your best life. Make an appointment online, through MyOchsner, or by phone (225) 201-2010.