An ovarian cyst is a benign tumor of the ovary. It can vary in size from a dime to a basketball. Some ovarian cysts develop during a normal menstrual cycle and will go away on their own (functional cysts). Others are true tumors of the ovary and will not go away unless surgically removed.
Ovarian cysts can cause pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, pressure or fullness in the abdomen, and nausea. Many cysts do not cause any symptoms and are found during your annual exam. If the cyst is large, is growing, or is causing significant symptoms, it may need to be removed surgically.
The surgical approach to the removal of an ovarian cyst depends on its size and type. Small cysts may be removed through a procedure called a laparoscopic cystectomy. In this procedure, a camera is inserted through the belly button. The cyst is then shelled out of the ovary. For larger or more complicated cysts, an abdominal incision may be needed. If a woman is postmenopausal, usually the whole ovary is removed (oopherectomy).
If you have have an ovarian cyst, your doctor can explain the surgical choices and help you decide which treatment may be right for you.