Dear Alice,

I just found out that I have a small cyst on my left ovary. I was wondering what causes these? Any risks with them? The doctor told me that they usually pass during a monthly period but I've been having this pain for several months already. Any advice? I haven't seen my GYN about this yet.



Dear Concerned,

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are usually harmless and disappear on their own. Cysts are often painless and without symptoms. Therefore, it is common for a health care provider to discover a cyst in an unassuming patient during a routine pelvic exam. When this happens, it is usually recommended that the patient comes back in a few weeks to check that the ovary is back to its normal size. Symptoms from cysts may include abnormal periods, irregular bleeding, lower abdominal pain, and nausea. In very rare cases, a cyst can cause severe pain. Cysts are quite common among women under 30 years of age.

Since you have been experiencing pain for several months now, it is important that you make an appointment with a health care provider as soon as possible. Cysts usually disappear by themselves, but may require treatment if they do not disappear after one or two menstrual cycles, if it is larger than two inches, and/or if you are over forty years old. Columbia students can make an appointment with Medical Services through Open Communicator, or by calling x4-2284. You can also check out the related Q&As for more information.


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