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An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac within the ovary.[1] Often they cause no symptoms.[1] Occasionally they may produce bloating, lower abdominal pain, or lower back pain.[1] The majority of cysts are harmless.[1] If the cyst either breaks open or causes twisting of the ovary, it may cause severe pain.[1] This may result in vomiting or feeling faint.[1]

Most ovarian cysts are related to ovulation, being either follicular cysts or corpus luteum cysts.[1] Other types include cysts due to endometriosis, dermoid cysts, and cystadenomas.[1] Many small cysts occur in both ovaries in polycystic ovarian syndrome.[1] Pelvic inflammatory disease may also result in cysts.[1] Rarely, cysts may be a form of ovarian cancer.[1] Diagnosis is undertaken by pelvic examination with an ultrasound or other testing used to gather further details.[1]

Often, cysts are simply observed over time.[1] If they cause pain, medications such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen may be used.[1]Hormonal birth control may be used to prevent further cysts in those who are frequently affected.[1] However, evidence does not support birth control as a treatment of current cysts.[2] If they do not go away after several months, get larger, look unusual, or cause pain, they may be removed by surgery.[1]

Most women of reproductive age develop small cysts each month.[1] Large cysts that cause problems occur in about 8% of women before menopause.[1]Ovarian cysts are present in about 16% of women after menopause and if present are more likely to be cancer.[1][3]


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