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Adolescent Ovarian Cysts

Often ovarian cysts in children and teens are problem free. But when your daughter is in pain or has other worrying symptoms, our pediatric and adolescent gynecologists can provide compassionate, expert care to treat her condition — and ease your concerns.

What are Adolescent Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts may occur at any age but are most common between puberty and menopause. Some cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, develop during a girl’s normal period. Often, they go undiagnosed or will dissolve on their own. In most cases, ovarian cysts are tiny, but they can grow larger in some circumstances. 

What are the different types of Adolescent Ovarian Cysts?

There are two main classes of ovarian cysts:

Functional Cysts

Functional cysts are part of the normal menstrual cycle and include:

  • Follicular cysts are the most common type of functional cyst. They are formed when an egg is maturing on the ovary.
  • Corpus luteum cysts can form on an ovary kind of like a "bruise" after ovulation. Occasionally, they can cause some minor pain. 

Nonfunctional Cysts

Nonfunctional cysts aren't related to the menstrual cycle. They include:

  • Cystadenomas are cysts that develop on the ovary's surface and are filled with thin, watery fluid or a thick, mucous-like material. These are usually benign.
  • Dermoid cysts (teratomas) form from embryonic cells and can contain hair, skin or teeth. These are usually benign but can become large and can twist, causing pain. 
  • Endometriomas develop due to endometriosis. Uterine endometrial cells grow outside the uterus, which can attach to the ovaries and form cysts.

What are the signs and symptoms of Adolescent Ovarian Cysts?

Symptoms of functional cysts are rarely noticed, and often disappear on their own within two or three menstrual cycles. If a cystadenoma or a dermoid cyst becomes large, it can move the ovary.

Possible Complications

Complications may occur in some cases and can include:

  • Ovary rupture – Large cysts may cause the ovary to leak, which can lead to hemorrhaging and pain.
  • Hemorrhage – Internal bleeding may occur if the cyst bursts.
  • Torsion (twist) – Cysts can move the ovary, causing it to twist. Torsion causes severe pain, nausea and vomiting. It can also decrease or even stop blood flow to the ovary, and require emergency surgery.

How are Adolescent Ovarian Cysts diagnosed?

If you suspect your daughter has ovarian cysts, her doctor will first take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. A pelvic exam will not be required, but her doctor will want to know when her last period was and how regular her periods have been.

Additional tests may include pelvic imaging studies such as an UltrasoundCT Scan, and in some cases, a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What are the causes of Adolescent Ovarian Cysts?

Most ovarian cysts develop as a result of the normal menstrual cycle. Risk factors include:

How are Adolescent Ovarian Cysts treated?

Small cysts are usually normal, while the larger ones may require removal. Often, removal can be done with minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery by a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist. This approach saves the ovary.

Ovarian cysts in children are most often benign. 

Occasionally, ovarian cysts cause twisting of the ovary and fallopian tube.  In these cases, they are found when a patient is evaluated for abdominal pain.  Twisted ovaries require prompt surgery to prevent damage to the ovary from lack of circulation.

Adolescent Ovarian Cysts Doctors and Providers