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What Causes Ovarian Cysts?

If it’s been a while since your last SexEd course, here’s a quick refresher – the ovaries are the two small reproductive organs located inside a woman’s body. The ovaries make hormones, including estrogen, which trigger menstruation. Every month, the ovaries release an egg that travels down the fallopian tubes to potentially be fertilized. This cycle of egg release is called ovulation.

Sometimes, the ovaries develop cysts, fluid-filled sacs that are particularly common during a woman’s childbearing years.

What causes ovarian cysts? woman-consulting-doctor

There are several different types of cysts, with the most common being a functional cyst that forms during ovulation. This formation happens when either the egg is not released or the sac–follicle–in which the egg forms does not dissolve after the egg is released. Other types of cysts include:

  • Endometriomas – In women with endometriosis, tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body, including the ovaries.
  • Polycystic ovaries – In polycystic ovarian syndrome, the follicles in which the eggs normally mature fail to open and cysts form.
  • Dystadenomas – These often fluid-filled cysts form out of cells on the surface of the ovary.
  • Dermoid cyst – This type of cyst contains tissue similar to that in other parts of the body, including skin, hair and teeth.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts?

Most ovarian cysts are small and don’t cause symptoms. Large cysts may cause a dull or sharp ache in the abdomen and pain during daily activities. Larger cysts may cause pain and twisting of the ovary. Cysts that bleed or rupture may lead to serious problems requiring immediate treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists,we diagnose ovarian cysts through a number of ways: during a routine pelvic exam, during a vaginal ultrasound, laparoscopy, or blood tests. Treatment of ovarian cysts include the use of birth control pills to shrink the size of the cyst, or your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cysts depending on your age, the size and type of the cysts. To discuss diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cysts with one of our doctors, please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.


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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
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