Ovarian cysts are very common during reproductive years. Ovarian cysts are sac-like structures filled with fluid. The ovarian follicles produce and release an egg each month during ovulation. Occasionally, a follicle may not break open to release an egg, or it may close and seal after an egg is released. This follicle can keep growing and form a cyst.
Ovarian cysts may occur during the natural process of the menstrual cycle. A follicular cyst occurs when the follicle does not release an egg. Follicular cysts usually resolve on their own with time. A corpus luteum cyst develops when a follicle seals off after releasing an egg. Some corpus luteum cysts can grow very large, some may rupture and bleed. A corpus luteum cyst does not typically cause harm to a pregnancy.
Many times, ovarian cysts do not produce any symptoms at all. For some women an ovarian cyst may cause pain, bloating, swelling, or an irregular period. A cyst that is large or is not resolving may require surgical removal. Hormonal therapy, like birth control pills may be recommended to help prevent follicle formation.