Specialist expertise: Reproductive & Fertility Medicine, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Ovulation Disorders, Abnormal Periods, Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, Menopause, Gynaecology, Cervical Smear, Fertility.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on an ovary. Ovarian cysts are common and many resolve spontaneously. Most cysts are benign but its important to consider the possibility of cancerous change. Most cysts (even large ones) that are benign can be safely treated by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
There are four main types of ovarian cysts:
These are the normal cysts that form as part of the process of making and releasing an egg. They are normally less than 3cm and typically do not cause symptoms or need treatment. These cysts can cause pain if they rupture or have bleeding into themselves. Functional cysts are much less common in women using the combined pill for contraception.
These are relatively common cysts that often do not cause symptoms unless they get quite large. They have very typical features on ultrasound and often contain different tissue types eg hair and teeth.
Women with endometriosis of the ovaries can result in a ‘chocolate’ cyst (so called as the cyst is filled with old blood which looks like melted chocolate).
Other benign cysts form because of production of fluid or mucus within the ovary and almost always need treatment as they tend to grow over time and never spontaneously resolve.
And finally there are malignant (cancerous) cysts.