Ovarian cysts

  • Alternative Names

    Physiologic ovarian cysts; Functional ovarian cysts; Corpus luteum cysts; Follicular cysts


    Functional ovarian cysts usually don't need treatment. They usually disappear within 8 - 12 weeks without treatment.

    Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) may be prescribed for 4 - 6 weeks. Longer term use may decrease the development of new ovarian cysts. Birth control pills do not decrease the size of current cysts, which often will go away on their own.

    Surgery to remove the cyst or ovary may be needed to make sure there are no cancer cells. Surgery is more likely to be needed for:

    • Complex ovarian cysts that don't go away
    • Cysts that are causing symptoms and do not go away
    • Simple ovarian cysts that are larger than 5 - 10 centimeters
    • Women who are menopausal or near menopause

    Types of surgery for ovarian cysts include:

    • Exploratory laparotomy
    • Pelvic laparoscopy to remove the cyst or the ovary

    The doctor may recommend other treatments if a disorder, such as polycystic ovary disease, is causing the ovarian cysts.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Cysts in women who are still having periods are more likely to go away. There is a higher risk of cancer in women who are postmenopausal.


    Complications have to do with the condition causing the cysts. Complications can occur with cysts that:

    • Bleed
    • Break open
    • Show signs of changes that could be cancer
    • Twist

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of an ovarian cyst
    • You have severe pain
    • You have bleeding that is not normal for you

    Also call for an appointment if the following symptoms have been present on most days for at least 2 weeks:

    • Getting full quickly when eating
    • Losing your appetite
    • Losing weight without trying