Ovarian cysts are common in women. While they often go away on their own, they may need treatment if they become large and painful. Our gynecologists offer nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for ovarian cysts. 

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About Ovarian Cysts

Cysts -- fluid-filled pockets -- on the ovaries are more common in women who still have menstrual periods. They can also occur during pregnancy. Often, ovarian cysts don’t cause any symptoms. When they do, they can cause pain in your lower abdomen (particularly during your period) and bloating. 

While rare, it is possible that cysts can be cancerous, which is why it is important for you to be seen by a doctor if you suspect you may have an ovarian cyst. Your doctor will perform tests to determine what type of cyst you have and to personalize your treatment.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Blood Tests

Although most ovarian cysts are noncancerous, your doctor may test your blood to look for abnormally high levels of substances that may indicate the presence of ovarian cancer.


Sound waves are used to create images that help your doctor detect cysts on your ovaries.


Ovarian cysts often go away without treatment. They may simply be monitored, typically with ultrasound. Or your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:

Hormone Therapy

Sometimes medications will be used to help to lessen your chances of developing ovarian cysts. Most commonly, this includes birth control pills or similar medications.

Ovarian Cystectomy

Certain types of cysts may require surgical removal. Whenever possible, our surgeons perform the procedure through small incisions, using a laparoscope -- a device with a camera at its tip -- and tiny surgical tools. In some cases, laparoscopic procedures may involve robotic technologies. These minimally invasive surgical techniques allow you to recover faster with less pain and fewer complications than traditional open surgery.

Best Hospital for Obstetrics and Gynecology in North Carolina

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. That is why our obstetrics and gynecology program is nationally ranked, and is the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023-2024.

Why Choose Duke

Personalized Care
We explore all nonsurgical and medical treatment options before recommending surgery. We offer a wide range of treatment approaches and help you choose the best option for you.

Research on New Therapies
Our dedicated researchers study ovarian cysts and their causes and work to develop more effective, targeted treatments.

Expert Treatment for Gynecologic Cancers
In the rare event that an ovarian cyst turns out to be cancerous, our gynecologists can refer you a Duke specialist in ovarian cancer. Having a gynecologic oncologist leading your treatment team ensures you receive the best care available.

This page was medically reviewed on 04/11/2019 by