Carolinas HealthCare System

Ovarian Cysts

The ovaries are small organs located within the pelvis and are connected to the uterus. They are responsible for producing hormones and an egg during each menstrual cycle. During part of the normal reproductive cycle, a woman will produce at least one cyst. These physiologic cysts are normal and patients should not worry about them. They will almost certainly go away on their own.

There can be many types of cysts that develop. Most of these are benign (not cancer). However, less commonly, ovarian cysts can be malignant (cancer). Therefore it is important to fully evaluate ovarian cysts. In most cases, a repeat ultrasound after 6-8 weeks will show that the cyst has resolved or disappeared. Cysts that persist or have worrisome features should be further evaluated by a gynecologist.

Common types of benign cysts include:

  • Dermoid - Dermoids are made from different types of tissue including teeth, hair, fat, or skin. These are more common in younger women and are often painless.
  • Endometrioma - When endometriosis grows on the ovary, a cyst called an endometrioma may develop. These may be very painful when a patient is near her menstrual cycle. Severe endometriosis can often affect fertility.
  • Cystadenoma - These are benign cysts that grow from the outside of the ovary. If these grow large, the woman may feel bloated, pain, or discomfort. These are usually benign.

Treatment of Ovarian Cysts

Depending on certain characteristics, your doctor may recommend observation with repeat imaging, or surgery. If surgery is indicated, patients should consider laparoscopy as the "standard of care" for ovarian surgery. A surgeon trained in laparoscopy can remove most ovarian cysts minimally invasively.  Our surgeons treat 99% of all benign ovarian disorders with laparoscopy - including advanced endometriosis.  Many patients can be treated with the latest laparoscopic technique using only a single incision in the umbilicus (belly button) - Single Incision Laparoscopy (SILS) or Laparo-Endoscopic Single Site (LESS) surgery.

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