Skip to content

Women's Health

Font Size

Functional Ovarian Cysts - Treatment Overview

Most functional ovarian cysts are harmless, do not cause symptoms, and go away without treatment. When treatment is needed, treatment goals include:

  • Relieving symptoms of pelvic pain or pressure.
  • Preventing more cysts from developing by preventing ovulation (if recurrence is a problem). Treatment with birth control pills prevents ovulation.

Initial treatment

Because functional ovarian cysts typically go away without treatment, your doctor may recommend a period of observation without treatment (watchful waiting) to see whether your ovarian cyst gets better or goes away on its own. Your doctor will do another pelvic exam in 1 to 2 months to see whether the cyst has changed in size.

If an ovarian cyst doesn't go away, your doctor may want to do more tests to be sure that your symptoms are not caused by another type of ovarian growth. Home treatment with heat and pain-relieving medicine can often provide relief of bothersome symptoms during this time.

Ongoing treatment

A functional ovarian cyst that doesn't go away, has an unusual appearance on ultrasound, or causes symptoms may require treatment with either medicines or surgery.

  • Your doctor may suggest that you try birth control pills for several months to stop more cysts from forming.
  • Surgical removal of the cyst (cystectomy) through a small incision (laparoscopy) may be needed if a painful functional ovarian cyst does not go away despite medical treatment. If a cyst has an unusual appearance on ultrasound or if you have other risk factors for ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend surgical removal through a larger abdominal incision (laparotomy) instead of by using laparoscopy.

What to think about

Cysts after menopause. After menopause, ovarian cancer risk increases. This is why all postmenopausal ovarian growths are carefully checked for signs of cancer. Some doctors will recommend removing the ovaries (oophorectomy) when any kind of cyst develops on an ovary after menopause. But the trend in medicine seems to be moving away from surgery for small and simple cysts in postmenopausal women. In the 5 years after menopause, some women will still have functional ovarian cysts now and then. Some postmenopausal ovarian cysts, called unilocular cysts, which have thin walls and one compartment, are rarely linked to cancer.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    Doctor discussing screening with patient
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    iud
    Expert views
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz