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Ovarian Cysts

An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid, surrounded by a very thin wall, within an ovary. Any ovarian follicle that is larger than about two centimeters is termed an ovarian cyst. The vast majority of ovarian cysts are harmless (benign). Some ovarian cysts cause problems, such as bleeding and pain.

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About Ovarian Cysts

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Oral contraceptives to treat cysts of the ovary

Women of reproductive age usually release an egg about once a month. The ovary gets an egg from the inside of the ovary to its surface by creating a blister or fluid‐filled space around the developing egg. When the blister (or cyst) reaches the surface of the ovary, it bursts and releases the egg into the abdominal cavity. After this occurs, the blister can develop into another type of cyst, which makes a hormone (progesterone) that helps the pregnancy to grow. Most of these cysts come and go without problems. Sometimes, however, the cysts get large or painful; others may remain for months. Several decades ago, health care providers learned that women taking birth control pills had fewer cysts, since the pills usually kept an egg from being released. Based on this fact, many clinicians started treating these cysts with birth control pills to make them go away faster.

Ovarian cyst aspiration and IVF outcomes

Cochrane authors investigated the effectiveness and safety of cyst aspiration before ovarian stimulation versus a conservative approach (no aspiration) in women undergoing In vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Our primary outcomes were live birth rate and adverse events. We also assessed pregnancy rates, number of follicles recruited, and number of oocytes retrieved.

Excisional surgery versus ablative surgery for ovarian endometriomata

Endometriomata are benign growths of the ovary. Evidence suggests that surgery to remove the endometrioma provides better results than draining and destroying the lining of the cyst with regard to the recurrence of the cyst, pain symptoms and also the chance of a spontaneous pregnancy in women who were previously subfertile. Surgery to excise the cyst should be the favoured surgical approach. Evidence that one technique is favoured in women who desire to conceive and who seek in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment is however lacking. An additional randomised trial demonstrated that in women trying to conceive the ovarian response to stimulation, as part of fertility treatment, is better in women who have undergone surgery to remove the cyst rather than draining and destroying the endometrioma. The subsequent likelihood of pregnancy was not affected.

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Summaries for consumers

Oral contraceptives to treat cysts of the ovary

Women of reproductive age usually release an egg about once a month. The ovary gets an egg from the inside of the ovary to its surface by creating a blister or fluid‐filled space around the developing egg. When the blister (or cyst) reaches the surface of the ovary, it bursts and releases the egg into the abdominal cavity. After this occurs, the blister can develop into another type of cyst, which makes a hormone (progesterone) that helps the pregnancy to grow. Most of these cysts come and go without problems. Sometimes, however, the cysts get large or painful; others may remain for months. Several decades ago, health care providers learned that women taking birth control pills had fewer cysts, since the pills usually kept an egg from being released. Based on this fact, many clinicians started treating these cysts with birth control pills to make them go away faster.

Ovarian cyst aspiration and IVF outcomes

Cochrane authors investigated the effectiveness and safety of cyst aspiration before ovarian stimulation versus a conservative approach (no aspiration) in women undergoing In vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Our primary outcomes were live birth rate and adverse events. We also assessed pregnancy rates, number of follicles recruited, and number of oocytes retrieved.

Excisional surgery versus ablative surgery for ovarian endometriomata

Endometriomata are benign growths of the ovary. Evidence suggests that surgery to remove the endometrioma provides better results than draining and destroying the lining of the cyst with regard to the recurrence of the cyst, pain symptoms and also the chance of a spontaneous pregnancy in women who were previously subfertile. Surgery to excise the cyst should be the favoured surgical approach. Evidence that one technique is favoured in women who desire to conceive and who seek in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment is however lacking. An additional randomised trial demonstrated that in women trying to conceive the ovarian response to stimulation, as part of fertility treatment, is better in women who have undergone surgery to remove the cyst rather than draining and destroying the endometrioma. The subsequent likelihood of pregnancy was not affected.

See all (10)

Terms to know

Corpus Luteum Cysts
Corpus luteum cysts appear after ovulation. The corpus luteum is the remnant of the follicle after the ovum has moved to the fallopian tubes. This normally degrades within 5-9 days. A corpus luteum that is more than 3 cm is defined as cystic.
Cysts
A sac or capsule in the body. It may be filled with fluid or other material.
Follicular Cysts
Follicular cyst, the most common type of ovarian cyst. In menstruating women, a follicle containing the ovum (unfertilized egg) will rupture during ovulation. If this does not occur, a follicular cyst of more than 2.5 cm diameter may result.
Functional Ovarian Cysts
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are harmless (benign), most are functional cysts. Functional cysts form as a normal part of the menstrual cycle.
Non-Functional Ovarian Cysts
Non-functional cysts may include an ovary with many cysts; cysts caused by endometriosis.

More about Ovarian Cysts

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See Also: Endometriosis, Period Pain, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Other terms to know: See all 5
Corpus Luteum Cysts, Cysts, Follicular Cysts

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