Functional Ovarian Cysts - Exams and Tests
If you see your doctor for pelvic
pain or bleeding, you'll be checked for a number of conditions, including an
ovarian cyst, that may be causing your symptoms. Your
evaluation will include a
pelvic exam, a history of your symptoms and menstrual
periods, a family history, and a
transvaginal ultrasound (which uses a narrow wand
placed in the vagina). See an image of
ovarian cysts .
If your doctor discovers an ovarian cyst during a
routine pelvic exam, a transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound can help show what
kind of cyst it is.
When is further testing needed?
ultrasound shows that you have a fluid-filled functional ovarian cyst, and it
isn't causing you severe pain, your doctor will probably suggest a watchful
waiting period. You can then have the cyst checked 6 to 8 weeks later to see
whether it is changing in size. Most cysts go away in 1 to 2
months without treatment or after 1 or 2 menstrual periods.2
Your doctor will recommend further testing or treatment if:
- Initial ultrasound doesn't clearly show what
kind of cyst or growth is present, or both ovaries are
- You are not ovulating during your initial examination
(because you are either a
postmenopausal woman or a girl not yet menstruating).
Without ovulation, a new functional cyst would be highly unlikely, so other
possible conditions are explored.
- You have moderate to severe pain
or vaginal bleeding.
- A diagnosed functional ovarian cyst does not
get smaller or go away in 2 to 3 months.
- An ovarian growth or cyst
(mass) is larger than
3 in. (7.6 cm).
risk factors for ovarian cancer. The higher your risk of ovarian cancer, the
more likely aggressive testing will be recommended to find out the cause of an
- Laparoscopy allows a surgeon to look
at the ovary through a lighted viewing instrument and take a sample of the
growth (biopsy). After testing the sample, the surgeon can decide whether to
surgically remove the cyst (cystectomy) or the entire ovary (oophorectomy). If
there is concern about ovarian cancer, a laparotomy (instead of a laparoscopy)
may be done. Then, if cancer is found, the surgeon can safely remove the
- CA-125 (cancer antigen) test is only
recommended for women with a very high risk for ovarian cancer. These are women
with a significant family history of the disease. This blood test result is
combined with ultrasound results, because it doesn't give a highly dependable
diagnosis on its own.