Ovarian Cysts

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Ovarian cysts facts

  • Ovarian cysts are closed, sac-like structures within the ovary that are filled with a liquid or semisolid substance.
  • Ovarian cysts form for numerous reasons.
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis is the most common symptom of an ovarian cyst, but most are asymptomatic.
  • Most cysts are diagnosed by ultrasound or physical exam.
  • The treatment of an ovarian cyst depends upon its likely diagnosis and varies from observation and monitoring to surgical treatment.

What is the ovary and what are ovarian cysts?

The ovary is one of a pair of reproductive glands in women that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of a walnut. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries are the main source of female hormones, which control the development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair. They also regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Ovarian cysts are closed, sac-like structures within an ovary that contain a liquid, gaseous, or semisolid substance. "Cyst" is merely a general term for a fluid-filled structure, which may or may not represent a tumor or neoplasm (new growth). If it is a tumor, it may be benign or malignant. The ovary is also referred to as the female gonad.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/13/2013

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Ovarian Cysts - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of ovarian cysts can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Ovarian Cysts - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your ovarian cysts?
Ovarian Cysts - Pregnancy Experience Question: Was an ovarian cyst discovered on an ultrasound while you were pregnant? Please describe your experience.

Cyst Symptoms and Causes

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

A cyst is a closed sac- or bladder-like structure that is not a normal part of the tissue where it is found. Cysts are common and can occur anywhere in the body in persons of any age. Cysts usually contain a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance. Cysts vary in size; they may be detectable only under a microscope or they can grow so large that they displace normal organs and tissues. The outer wall of a cyst is called the capsule.