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Ovarian cysts are common in women of child-bearing age and do not generally cause any symptoms. These cysts can be caused by conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, but often no cause is found. Most cysts are small and do not cause any problems, although a large cyst may form that can put pressure on surrounding tissues and cause a lot of pain. Treatment options for a large ovarian cyst may include the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, hormonal therapies, or even surgery.
Doctors will often monitor a large ovarian cyst without providing any other treatment unless the pain becomes extremely troubling or other health issues develop as a result of the cyst. This is particularly true if the patient is attempting to maintain fertility. Ultrasound is often used to monitor the size of the cyst and to make sure the ovary does not become twisted by the cyst.
If pain becomes an issue due to the large ovarian cyst, the doctor may recommend the usage of over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medications should be taken at the first sign of pain, as they may not provide adequate pain relief once the pain becomes severe. If these medications do not help with the pain, the doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications such as hydrocodone. This type of medication is a narcotic, so care should be taken when driving or performing any activity that requires complete mental focus.
Heat or ice therapy may provide some degree of pain relief when treating discomfort caused by a large ovarian cyst. Some patients prefer heat therapy, while others prefer to use ice. Both methods have roughly the same pain relieving effects, so it is a matter of personal preference.
Hormone therapy is sometimes used to to prevent or relieve symptoms from a large ovarian cyst. These hormones are typically administered in the form of birth control pills. In this case, the birth control pills are not only used to prevent pregnancy but also to regulate the patient's menstrual cycle and restore hormonal balance.
A large ovarian cyst can sometimes cause such excruciating pain or excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle that the patient does not respond to medications. In these cases, surgical intervention may become necessary. Surgery may be performed to remove the cyst itself, or the ovary itself may have to be removed if structural damage has been done to the ovary. If there are other reproductive system disorders present as well, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries may have to be removed in a surgical procedure known as a hysterectomy.