Ovarian cysts

Diagnosis of ovarian cysts

Your Dignity Health gynecologist may suspect an ovarian cyst based on your description of symptoms. Additional tests are necessary to confirm (or rule out) the diagnosis.

Diagnosing ovarian cysts may include:

  • Physical exam: A doctor may feel a cyst during a pelvic exam.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound can pinpoint the location, size, and makeup of ovarian cysts. Abdominal ultrasound and vaginal ultrasound can evaluate ovarian cysts. With abdominal ultrasound, a technician moves a sensor over a woman’s lower abdomen. A vaginal ultrasound uses a probe inserted inside the vagina.
  • Blood tests: If you are past menopause or at increased risk for ovarian cancer, your doctor may order CA-125 testing along with other diagnostic studies. CA-125 is a biomarker for certain cancers, including ovarian cancer. But, higher-than-normal CA-125 levels can also be due to a noncancerous condition. Depending on your test results, your doctor may recommend additional cancer screening.

Treatment of ovarian cysts

There’s no known way to prevent ovarian cysts. Treatment depends on the size of the cyst, the type of cyst, and whether the cyst is causing pain or other problems.

The most common treatment strategies include:

  • Monitoring: If your cyst isn’t causing any uncomfortable symptoms, your doctor may suggest rechecking it via ultrasound in a few months. Most ovarian cysts go away without treatment, so, if you’re not in pain, monitoring may be good option.
  • Birth control pills: Oral contraceptives will not get rid of an existing cyst, but can help prevent the development of more cysts.
  • Surgery: If a cyst is causing discomfort, or has persisted and is growing, surgery may be used to remove the cyst from the ovary. In most cases, doctors can remove ovarian cysts through tiny incisions in the abdomen and preserve the ovary. If the cyst is large or suspected of being cancerous, your doctor may remove one or both ovaries.

The gynecologists at Dignity Health are here to help you feel your best. Reach out to us with your questions about ovarian cysts or our other gynecology or women’s health services.