When a cyst is found in a woman who is still having normal periods, it is important to monitor it to see if it gets smaller or resolves over the course of four to six weeks. An ultrasound, an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the body, is an accurate and painless way to monitor an ovarian cyst. Cysts that get smaller between two different ultrasounds usually require no further treatment.
Ovarian masses that don't get significantly smaller or disappear over the course of a month or two are more likely to be tumors. These tumors are generally benign, or non-cancerous, especially in younger women. Sometimes ultrasound or other imaging tests, such as an MRI, can determine that the cysts are non-cancerous. If they are also small and don't cause any symptoms, they can often just be monitored periodically. If a cyst is larger, or if it is difficult to accurately determine the kind of cyst, it will most likely need to be removed surgically.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.