What Are Ovarian Cysts? Are There Different Types And Causes?

womans hands on abdomen wearing striped underwear

Find out what you need to know about ovarian cysts. Source: Shutterstock.com

We want all you readers to be as well-informed as you can be when it comes to your health and body, so that’s why today, we’re giving you the lowdown on ovarian cysts.

As you have probably already guessed, ovarian cysts have to do with the ovaries. But what exactly are they? Well, the cysts themselves are sacs of fluid which form on a woman’s ovaries.

Cysts come in different types and can happen for a number of different reasons. The most common kind of cyst is called a “follicular cyst.” That happens when an egg isn’t released from within the follicle (a sac of fluid).

Another type of cyst is called a “corpus luteum cyst.” Basically after your ovary releases an egg, it results in this bit of tissue (aka corpus luteum). In some cases, it doesn’t break down like it should and instead becomes a cyst. Other causes for ovarian cysts could be another condition, like polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis.

On the whole, ovarian cysts are actually pretty common and you may not even realize that you have one until something happens, like it ruptures and you start to feel pain. You could also be affected if the cyst causes “torsion” to occur, which means it causes the ovary to twist. Blood can no longer reach the ovary and it can result in intense pain in your abdomen that needs to be addressed by a doctor immediately.

While you may not know you have one, your doctor may be able to find an ovarian cyst during a pelvic exam. A pelvic ultrasound can also check for ovarian cysts.

A lot of times, an ovarian cyst will just go away on its own. Your doctor may monitor the cyst to make sure that it’s getting smaller and you also may need to make some lifestyle tweaks for a bit (like abstaining from exercise) to prevent any complications from arising (like torsion).

If the ovarian cyst isn’t going away, is getting bigger or hurts you, there are also options for it to be surgically removed. Some women are prescribed birth control pills to help prevent new cysts from forming.

In some cases, an ovarian cyst could contain tumors (both cancerous and non-cancerous). Before you stress out too much though about possibly having cancer, know that the Center For Young Women’s Health notes that it’s pretty rare for a cyst to be cancerous. Still, it’s just another reason to make sure you are getting regular check ups to be safe.

While you may not always have symptoms, there are a few things like instances of pelvic pain, irregularities in your period and a need to urinate often, which could be evidence of an ovarian cyst. As always, if anything feels off with your body, make sure you discuss it with your doctor so that she can be proactive about figuring out what’s up, whether it is an ovarian cyst or maybe something else.

Had you heard of ovarian cysts before? What other health topics would you want us to cover? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Valeria

    i have always had an irregular period. i am currently 16 and half. like i havent had my period in about 8 months already. sometimes it takes a year. im just wondering if this is normal. my doctor just told me to wait but i want to know if something is wrong with me.

  • Hailey

    Last year, I spent two separate days in the hospitals because I had such bad pain with my ovarian cysts. They’re the reason I’m on birth control. My mom was concerned that I had appendicitis (the first visit) and the hospital confirmed that was negative. But the pain persisted, so we went back, and they determined that I had a quarter-sized cyst that had ruptured. Even though I’m on birth control, I still have the occasional pain of rupturing. :b
    This year, I went to the OB-GYN for more pains that seemed to be cyst-related… turns out I had slightly above average levels of prolactin.. which apparently means pituitary tumor. So if yall’s hormones are as out of whack as mine… maybe ask your doc about having a blood test? Just some advice. (:

  • cartina garrison

    So do you think that I’m over reacting or do you think that I need to wait until the doctor tell me more.

  • womens health

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  • Jayme

    I have ovarian cysts, and they just keep coming back every month, so for a few days of every month I’m basically out of commission because of the pain.
    In February I went to the hospital and they thought it might’ve been appendicitis at first, it was horrible.

    • Michelle

      I had the same exact thing happen to me!

  • heather9

    Thank you!!
    My doctor told me I had PCOS, based on a hormone level test, so I know that I get ovarian cysts, but I’ve been wondering a bit about that so I really appreciated this article 🙂

  • Victoria

    Wow, that is creepy. Sunday night I was rushed to the ER because of sharp pain on my right side and I was throwing up. The doctor came back and said it was because of an ovairian cyst. Then I go to the OB-GYN and he says I have 2 cysts about 7cm longs, one on each cyst. Then y’all write a story about it. Creepy!!!! My doctor found it best for me to wait instead of having laperscopic surgery to remove the cyst. He put me on a birth control to help control my blood flow and reduce the cyst. Going back in a month for a check up. If the cyst don’t go down or have gotten worst we will probably have to do the surgery.