What are the symptoms and treatment options for ovarian cysts?

Symptom Database

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. They are a common condition among women of reproductive age and can vary in size from small to large. While most ovarian cysts are harmless and resolve on their own, some may cause symptoms and require treatment. In this article, we will explore the symptoms and treatment options for ovarian cysts, as well as the causes, complications, and natural remedies associated with this condition.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts often do not cause any noticeable symptoms and are discovered during routine pelvic examinations. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Pelvic pain or discomfort
  • Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
  • Pressure on the bladder or rectum
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight gain

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.

Ovarian Cyst Treatment Options

The treatment for ovarian cysts depends on various factors, including the size and type of the cyst, as well as the presence of symptoms. Here are some common treatment options:

Watchful Waiting

If the cyst is small and not causing any symptoms, your doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach. They will monitor the cyst through regular check-ups and imaging tests to ensure it does not grow or cause complications.


In some cases, hormonal birth control pills may be prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle and prevent the formation of new cysts. Pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also help alleviate discomfort associated with ovarian cysts.

Surgical Intervention

If the cyst is large, causing severe symptoms, or suspected to be cancerous, your doctor may recommend surgery. The two main types of surgical procedures for ovarian cysts are:

Ovarian Cystectomy

This procedure involves the removal of the cyst while preserving the ovary. It is typically performed using minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy, which involves small incisions and the use of a camera and specialized instruments.


In cases where the cyst is large, the entire ovary may need to be removed. This procedure is called oophorectomy and can be performed using laparoscopy or traditional open surgery.

Causes of Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts can develop for various reasons. Some common causes include:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Endometriosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Previous ovarian cysts

It is important to note that most ovarian cysts are not preventable, and their exact cause may not always be determined.

Ovarian Cyst Rupture and Complications

In some cases, ovarian cysts can rupture, causing sudden and severe pain. This can lead to complications such as:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adhesions (scar tissue)
  • Torsion (twisting) of the ovary

If you experience intense abdominal pain, fever, or signs of shock, seek immediate medical attention as these may indicate a ruptured cyst.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are several types of ovarian cysts, including:

Follicular Cysts

These cysts form when the sac containing an egg fails to release the egg, causing it to continue growing. They are usually harmless and resolve on their own within a few menstrual cycles.

Corpus Luteum Cysts

After the release of an egg, the follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum. If the corpus luteum fills with fluid instead of shrinking, it can develop into a cyst. Most corpus luteum cysts resolve on their own within a few weeks.

Dermoid Cysts

Also known as mature cystic teratomas, dermoid cysts are formed from embryonic cells and can contain various types of tissues, including hair, skin, and teeth. While usually benign, dermoid cysts may need to be surgically removed if they cause symptoms or grow larger.


Endometriomas are cysts that form when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, grows outside of it. These cysts are associated with endometriosis and may cause pain and fertility issues.

Natural Remedies for Ovarian Cysts

While natural remedies cannot cure ovarian cysts, they may help alleviate symptoms and promote overall well-being. Some natural remedies that may be beneficial include:

  • Applying heat to the lower abdomen to relieve pain
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to reduce stress
  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Exercising regularly to promote hormonal balance and reduce inflammation

It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before trying any natural remedies, as they can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.

In conclusion, ovarian cysts are a common condition that can cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloating, and irregular menstrual cycles. Treatment options range from watchful waiting and medication to surgical intervention. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms or suspect a ruptured cyst. While natural remedies may provide symptom relief, they cannot cure ovarian cysts. Consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis, treatment, and guidance.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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