Ovarian cysts refer to fluid-filled sacs in the ovary. They can vary in size and develop as a result of a regular menstrual cycle (functional cysts), or as a result of other variable factors (e.g., dermoid cysts, cystadenomas, and endometriomas). Functional cysts typically do not cause pain and can disappear within a few menstrual cycles. Many women might not even notice that they have one.
There are other kinds of ovarian cysts that occur for other reasons. Cysts are diagnosed by ultrasound. Management of ovarian cysts depends on the kind of cyst that is present, its size, and symptoms it may be causing. Surgery usually involves laparoscopy and removing just the cyst, although sometime the entire ovary may need to be removed.
While the majority of cysts are benign, some cysts can show signs of ovarian malignancy. These tend to appear more commonly in older women and are usually not only fluid-filled, but have solid areas in the cyst as well. Your doctor will discuss the results of your ultrasound with you and determine what care is appropriate, which could include watching and repeating an ultrasound, surgery, or referral to a specialist.