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Ovarian Cysts
Amber French, D.O.
Board Certified OB/GYN
Amy L Helton

Practice Hours

Monday through Thursday
8:00 am to 5:00 pm

8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Dahlonega Office

Dawsonville Office


We wanted to take a minute to thank you again. I understand that what you did for us is your job, its what you do everyday. For us it was different…it was something special. You made us feel like we were your only patients, not like a number or just another pregnant lady. The fact that you care that much means a lot to us…Thank you for everything. - Becky and Greg P

P.S. The nurses at the hospital were fantastic too!

Ovarian Cysts PDF Print E-mail

OVARIAN CYST OVERVIEW — Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on the ovary. Ovarian cysts occur commonly in women of all ages. Some women with ovarian cysts have pain or pelvic pressure, while others have no symptoms. Irregular menstrual periods are not usually related to an ovarian cyst.


Fortunately, most ovarian cysts do not require surgical removal and are not caused by cancer. Cysts can vary in size from less than one centimeter (one-half inch) to greater than 10 centimeters (4 inches).

OVARIAN CYST CAUSES —The most common causes of ovarian cysts depend upon whether you are still having menstrual periods (premenopausal) or have stopped menstruating for at least one year (postmenopausal).
PREMENOPAUSAL WOMEN — For premenopausal women, the most common causes of ovarian cysts include:
  • Ovulation — "Functional" ovarian cysts develop when a follicle (sac) grows, but does not rupture to release the egg. These cysts usually resolve without treatment.
  • Dermoid cysts — Dermoid cysts are one of the most common types of cysts found in women between age 20 and 40 years. A dermoid cyst can contain teeth, hair, or fat.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — Women with PCOS do not need treatment for ovarian cysts, but may need treatment for other PCOS problems, such as irregular menstrual periods.
  • Endometriosis — Women with endometriosis can develop a type of ovarian cyst called an endometrioma, or "chocolate cyst".
  • Pregnancy — An ovarian cyst normally develops in early pregnancy, to help support the pregnancy until the placenta forms. In some cases, the cyst stays on the ovary until later in the pregnancy.
  • Severe pelvic infections — Severe pelvic infections generally involve the ovaries and fallopian tubes. As a result, pus-filled cysts form in the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.
  • Non-cancerous growths
  • Cancer — Cancer is a relatively uncommon cause of ovarian cysts in premenopausal women; less than 1 percent of new growths on or near the ovary are related to ovarian cancer.

POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN — In women who have stopped having menstrual periods, the most common causes of ovarian cysts include:

  • Non-cancerous growths
  • Fluid collection in the ovary
In postmenopausal women, new growths on or around the ovary are somewhat more likely to be caused by cancer. If your doctor is concerned that you could have ovarian cancer, he or she may recommend that you meet with a physician specialist, called a gynecologic oncologist. These physicians have been trained in the surgical treatment of ovarian cancer, and can improve your chances of survival.
OVARIAN CYST DIAGNOSIS — Ovarian cysts can sometimes be detected during a pelvic examination, although an imaging test, usually a pelvic ultrasound, is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. CT scan or MRI are also sometimes used, but less commonly. These imaging tests can also provide information about the cyst's size, location, and other important characteristics. Depending upon the results of the imaging test, your age, symptoms, results of blood tests, and your family history, your healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting or surgery.

OVARIAN CYST FOLLOW UP — After an ovarian cyst resolves, you will not need further imaging tests if you do not have symptoms. Some types of ovarian cysts are more likely to recur than others. This includes endometriomas and functional ovarian cysts. If you are premenopausal and are concerned about recurrent cysts, taking a birth control pill or other hormonal form of birth control can help to prevent ovarian cysts from developing.