What is a functional ovarian cyst?
ovarian cyst is a sac that forms on the surface of a woman’s
ovulation. It holds a maturing egg. Usually the sac
goes away after the egg is released. If an egg is not released, or if the sac
closes up after the egg is released, the sac can swell up with fluid.
Functional ovarian cysts are different from ovarian growths caused by
other problems, such as cancer. Most of these cysts are harmless. They do not
cause symptoms, and they go away without treatment. But if a cyst becomes
large, it can twist, rupture, or bleed and can be very painful.
What causes functional ovarian cysts?
ovarian cyst forms because of slight changes in the way the ovary makes or
releases an egg. There are two types of these cysts:
- A follicular cyst occurs when a sac on the
ovary does not release an egg, and the sac swells up with fluid.
luteal cyst occurs when the sac releases an egg and then reseals and fills with
What are the symptoms?
Most functional ovarian
cysts do not cause symptoms. The larger the cyst is, the more likely it is to
cause symptoms. Symptoms can include:
- Pain or aching in your lower belly, usually
when you are in the middle of your menstrual cycle.
- A delay in the
start of your menstrual period.
- Vaginal bleeding when you are not
having your period.
Some functional ovarian cysts can twist or break open
(rupture) and bleed. Symptoms include:
- Sudden, severe pain, often with nausea and
- Pain during or after
If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
Some ruptured cysts bleed enough that treatment is needed to prevent heavy
How are functional ovarian cysts diagnosed?
doctor may find an ovarian cyst during a routine
pelvic exam. He or she may then use a pelvic
ultrasound to make sure that the cyst is filled with
fluid. In a few months, after you have been through 2 or 3 menstrual cycles,
your doctor will recheck you. The cyst is likely to go away on its own during
If you see your doctor for pelvic pain or bleeding,
you'll be checked for problems that may be causing your symptoms. Your doctor
will ask you about your symptoms and menstrual periods. He or she will do a
pelvic exam and may do a pelvic ultrasound.
How are they treated?
Most functional ovarian
cysts go away without treatment. Your doctor may suggest using heat and
medicine to relieve minor pain.
If a large cyst bleeds or causes
severe pain, you can have surgery to remove it.
Your doctor may
suggest that you take birth control pills, which stop ovulation. This may
prevent new cysts from forming.
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