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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Health Buzz - What You Should Know About Ovarian Cysts

A normal view of the Ovary and Uterus

What it is: A fluid filled sac on or within the ovary. The most common type, a functional cyst, develops during the ovulation process. If the ovarian follicle fails to release an egg, a cyst will form.

Why it's not necessarily serious: Most cysts are benign and some women won't even know they have one, says Robert Atlas, M.D., chairman of the department of OB/GYN at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. In fact, there's usually no immediate treatment other than a "watch and wait" approach. Your doctor will simply recheck the cyst after a few months to make sure it disappears. Some women have no symptoms (in such cases, a cyst is discovered during a pelvic exam); others may experience pelvic pain, a feeling of fullness, pain during sex or nausea.

When to worry: See your doctor if you have symptoms (and to get regular pelvic exams even if you don't). If you do have a cyst, get it checked again after several menstrual cycles. In rare cases, a cyst will not disappear on its own and will require surgical removal. Also, while the majority of cysts are benign, your doctor will want to do an ultrasound to rule out ovarian cancer.