Ovarian Cysts

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ovarian Cysts Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideAbdominal Pain Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Abdominal Pain Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

What symptoms are caused by ovarian cysts?

Most ovarian cysts are never noticed and resolve without women ever realizing that they are there. When a cyst causes symptoms, pain in the abdomen or pelvis is the most common one. The pain can be caused from:

  • rupture of the cyst,
  • rapid growth and stretching,
  • bleeding into the cyst, or
  • twisting of the cyst around its blood supply (known as torsion).

If the cyst has reached a large size, other symptoms may arise as a result of pressure or distortion of adjacent anatomical structures. These symptoms can include abdominal fullness or bloating, indigestion, feeling full after eating only a small amount (early satiety), urinary urgency, feeling an urge to defecate or having difficult bowel movements, or pain with sexual intercourse.

How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?

Sometimes ovarian cysts may be noticed by a doctor during a bimanual examination of the pelvis. If a cyst is suspected based upon symptoms or physical examination, imaging techniques are used. Most cysts are diagnosed by ultrasound, which is the best imaging technique for detecting them. Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce an image of structures within the body. Ultrasound imaging is painless and harmless.

Cysts can also be detected with other imaging methods, such as CT scan or MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2015
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