​Diagnosing ovarian cysts

As a woman, you may experience a common gynecological condition known as an ovarian cyst, which is a fluid-filled sac located on an ovary. 

Your doctor will start by reviewing your health history for ovarian cyst risk factors and asking about symptoms. Since most ovarian cysts have no symptoms, some are discovered during a routine pelvic exam.

If a cyst is found, your doctor may suggest a "watch and wait" approach. The concept of "watchful waiting" is to not actively treat the cyst unless it doesn't go away as your hormones change. For a growing or unchanged cyst, your doctor will order further testing.

Additional tests help determine the cyst's exact location, size and type of mass (solid, fluid-filled or mixed), including:

  • Ultrasound—uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from the inside of your body

  • Hormone level tests—to check for hormone-related problems

  • Pregnancy test—to rule out pregnancy

  • Laparoscopy—used to look at the abdominal organs or female pelvic organs and remove a sample for biopsy

  • CA 125 blood test—checking for the cancer-antigen 125 is typically done when a cyst is solid and the woman is post-menopause and at high risk for ovarian cancer 

Next steps

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cysts, your doctor will discuss your medical and surgical treatment options.

Women's health specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network are experienced with evaluating any symptoms you may have and diagnosing ovarian cysts.

Think you might have an ovarian cyst? Make an appointment with one of our Women’s Health experts.