Ovarian cysts can be painful, but don’t usually cause any big problems.

If you have ever had an ovarian cyst, or been present for the treatment of a loved one with one, you know they can be a real problem. As a nurse, I used to treat patients regularly who had them and found myself wondering what all the fuss was about—until I got one myself. And wowzers—they really can hurt and take several days, even weeks to heal completely.

Thankfully, this common and basically benign condition is only a passing event. But in the moment when your doctor tells you “you have a cyst on your ovary” you’ve probably found yourself exchanging a nervous glance with your doctor and asking “What does that mean?” Well I’m going to tell you.

Statistics show that up to 80% of women will deal with an ovarian cyst at some point during their life.  While most occur during your childbearing years (the time between when you start your period and when it (finally) ends).

Your ovaries are two almond-shaped organs that produce eggs for reproduction and are responsible for sending out girly hormones that control breast size, hair growth, your periods, and many other female functions.

What is a cyst?

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that spring up anywhere in the body but—you guessed it—ovarian cysts only happen on or in the ovaries.  Most women will experience what is known as a functional cyst. Functional cysts happen during your menstrual cycle and trigger symptoms when something goes wrong with the sac.

Symptoms of an ovarian cyst:

Most commonly, the fluid-filled sac on the ovary that is supposed to release a mature egg doesn’t break open and instead grows larger, causing pain and the following symptoms:

  • Dull ache in the lower back and thighs
  • Problems passing urine
  • Pain during sex
  • Weight gain
  • Painful periods
  • Pressure, swelling or pain in the low belly

Most cysts will go away on their own with a little patience. Some can take 4-6 weeks or even several months to resolve depending on their type. But there are times when you should seek Dr. Hessel’ s help immediately:

  • If you have sudden, severe abdominal pain
  • Faintness, dizziness or weakness
  • Pain with fever and vomiting

To determine if you have a cyst, your doctor will probably do an ultrasound , blood work to check for pregnancy and some signs of cancer, and hormone levels just to rule that out. JUST REMEMBER THAT OVARIAN CYSTS ARE NOT TYPICALLY CANCEROUS!

Treatment for your cyst

Will be waiting and managing the pain with anti-inflammatory medications. If your cyst looks strange on ultrasound, is causing significant pain, or doesn’t go away after a few rounds of your period, your doctor may want to remove it surgically.

If you get a lot of cysts, and are a candidate you may be placed on birth control pills to stop your body from ovulating and therefore, stop the formation of cysts.

If you think you may have a cysts, it’s best to check in with your doctor or with Dr. Hessel just to make sure everything is normal. If it is, then welcome to the club—there’s a lot of members.  Dr. Hessel is here to help you manage the symptoms and coordinate treatment if needed, so come