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What Is a Septated Ovarian Cyst?

Sarah Sullins
Sarah Sullins

An ovarian cyst is a pathological, fluid-filled pocket or sac that develops on the surface or inside the ovaries. The ovaries are female reproductive organs that release and mature eggs every month. 

Ovarian cysts are common, and according to research, about 7% of women across the globe suffer from an ovarian cyst at some point in life. The incidence of ovarian cysts in a European sample of postmenopausal women was 21.2%. 

In most cases, a cyst presents as an ache, which can be sharp or dull in the lower abdomen. A feeling of fullness or heaviness accompanies pelvic pain. 

What is a Septated Ovarian Cyst

The female reproductive system, including the ovaries.
The female reproductive system, including the ovaries.

A septated ovarian cyst is a growth located on the ovaries, made of solid, semi-solid, and liquid components. This type of cyst also has walls within it, dividing it into different parts. These cysts can be dangerous and are more likely to be cancerous than any other cyst.

Septated ovarian cysts are usually found during routine exams. Sometimes a woman will go to the doctor to get an exam done because she is experiencing the symptoms often associated with this type of cyst. Ultrasounds may be used to determine whether or not this kind of cyst exists and to determine the thickness of the walls within the cyst. Generally, the thicker the walls, the higher the chance the cyst is malignant.

Risk Factors for Septated Ovarian Cyst 

The following are some risk factors that enhance the likelihood of a woman developing a septated ovarian cyst:

Infertility Treatment 

Women taking clomiphene are at a greater risk of developing ovarian cysts. Medical professional use clomiphene citrate to induce ovulation in infertile women. A randomized study suggested that ovarian cysts are common complications of the drug.


Endometriosis is known as excessive growth and inflammation of the uterine lining (endometrium). This condition can cause the growth of endometrial cells out of the uterus, thereby increasing the risk of ovarian cyst. 

Pelvic Infection and Inflammation

Studies show that the prevalence of endometriotic ovarian cysts is high in women with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Severe infection of the pelvis may also contribute to ovarian cyst development.

Septated Ovarian Cyst vs. Complex Ovarian Cyst

A healthy ovary and one from a woman with PCOS.
A healthy ovary and one from a woman with PCOS.

Complex ovarian cysts are large growths with notable size. Compared to simple ovarian cysts (functional cysts), these cysts have a greater tendency to develop into cancer. A septated cyst can be of functional or a complex ovarian cyst type. Previously, septated cysts were considered complex ovarian cysts. 

However, doctors now believe that a septated cyst is mostly benign. The main complex ovarian cysts are dermoid, endometrioma, and cystadenomas.

Symptoms of Septated Ovarian Cyst

There are several different symptoms that a woman may experience with this type of cyst and any other kind. These include:

Menstrual Cycle Abruptions 

Septated ovarian cysts can be life-threatening, with an increased risk of becoming maligant.
Septated ovarian cysts can be life-threatening, with an increased risk of becoming maligant.

Her menstrual cycle may be irregular, heavy, or absent, pain in the pelvic region or lower back, and she may experience mood swings. According to a study, an ovarian cyst can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding in-between periods (spotting or heavy bleeding). Menstrual cycle abruptions can become more severe if the cyst starts producing sex hormones.

Pelvic Pain 

Septated ovarian cysts do not generally cause pain. However, sharp pain might be experienced in one area near the ovaries and may travel down into the upper thighs. Bursting of a cyst generally causes severe, sharp pain with a sudden onset.

Mood Swings 

Septated ovarian cysts are more likely to be cancerous than any other type of cyst.
Septated ovarian cysts are more likely to be cancerous than any other type of cyst.

Changes in mood and behavior are seen in women having ovarian cysts due to underlying polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The changes relate to mood mainly because of hormonal imbalances. Research suggests that in addition to mood swings, PCOS can contribute to developing anxiety disorders and depression. 

Complications Arising From a Septated Cyst 

A septated ovarian cyst must be taken care of as quickly as possible because of the complications that can occur with it. If the cyst becomes twisted, it may twist around the ovary and cut off the blood flow to that organ. A woman who is experiencing this will most likely need immediate surgery if the ovary is to be saved. Sometimes, the damaged ovary must be completely removed along with the cyst.

Septated ovarian cysts without projections (papillary) have a low risk of malignancy. In a detailed study, 1,319 patients with septated cysts were observed using sonography. Only one patient reported epithelial ovarian cancer. 

The most commonly observed histopathological types of septated ovarian cysts include endometria, mucinous cystadenoma, and serous cystadenoma (complex ovarian cyst types). All but one patient developed ovarian neoplasia.

The most significant complication from a septated cyst is transforming into a malignant tumor, but it is rare.

How To Prevent a Septated Ovarian Cyst?

Septated ovarian cysts are usually found during routine exams.
Septated ovarian cysts are usually found during routine exams.

Most septated ovarian cysts develop silently and go unnoticed most of the time. Therefore, there is no definitive way to prevent them. An effective way to keep yourself safe is by getting regular pelvic exams to check for any ovarian changes. Be alert about the onset and duration of the menstrual cycle and report any symptoms to your doctor.

Fetal Ovarian Cysts 

Fetal ovarian cysts can occur before (prenatal) and after birth (postnatal cysts). In a review, 16 cases presented with prenatal and postnatal ovarian cysts. The majority of these cysts resolve spontaneously within 12 months. Symptomatic ovarian cysts with diameters greater than five centimeters are treated with surgery.

Do Septated Cysts Go Away on Their Own

According to the study linked above with 1,319 participants, almost 39% of septated ovarian cysts resolved entirely on their own, while 61% persisted and needed to be treated medically. Out of the 1,756 ovarian cysts that persisted, 128 underwent surgical removal.

How Long Does a Septated Ovarian Cyst Take To Resolve Completely?

On average, a septated ovarian cyst takes around 12 months to resolve completely. Once diagnosed, your doctor will regularly check the condition of the cyst via frequent sonography. You should seek medical or surgical treatment if the cyst persists after the mean duration of 12 months.

Treatment for Septated Ovarian Cyst 

Treatment will vary depending on the size of the cyst and its malignancy. Blood tests and a biopsy are generally done to determine whether or not the cyst is cancerous. If it is small enough, certain medications may be prescribed along with painkillers to keep it under control. At times, though, surgery is required to remove the septated cyst. 

Women are often encouraged to see their gynecologist once a year for a checkup because it is much easier to treat these types of cysts if they are found while still in the early stage of development.

There is no known cause for this kind of cyst, but there are some factors that may contribute to them. These may be obesity, genetics, an increase and decrease in blood sugar levels, neglect, stress, smoking, and age. A weak immune system may also contribute to the development of these types of cysts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a septated ovarian cyst?

A septated ovarian cyst is a type of cyst that has an internal wall called a "septum," that separates the cyst into two or more sections. It is a type of functional cyst that is usually benign and non-cancerous, but it can cause pain and discomfort. The cyst is formed during ovulation when the egg is not released from the follicle and can reach up to several centimeters in size.

What are the symptoms of a septated ovarian cyst?

The most common symptom of a septated ovarian cyst is pelvic pain or discomfort, which can vary from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing feeling. Other symptoms may include bloating, irregular menstrual cycle, lower back pain, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty urinating.

How is a septated ovarian cyst diagnosed?

A septated ovarian cyst can be detected through an ultrasound, which can reveal the presence of the septum. Sometimes, a CT scan or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor may also order blood tests to look for signs of infection or to rule out other possible causes of the pain.

How is a septated ovarian cyst treated?

The size and symptoms of the cyst determine the mode of treatment adopted. If the cyst is small and not causing any symptoms, your doctor may suggest simply monitoring it with regular ultrasounds. But if the cyst is large, your doctor may decide to recommend medications or surgery to remove it.

What are the risks of a septated ovarian cyst?

The most common risk associated with a septated ovarian cyst is that it could twist or rupture, causing internal bleeding and severe pain. In some cases, however, a septated ovarian cyst could become malignant and develop into ovarian cancer. It is essential to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing and to get regular ultrasounds to monitor the cyst.

Discussion Comments


My daughter was just diagnosed with a septated cyst in one ovary. How were yours removed?


There are several different kinds of cysts. I have suffered with simple mucinous cysts ever since going on the pill and going off it did not help. I was told they were tiny and nothing to worry about. Two years ago I need a 2 level lumbar fusion because of severe spinal stenosis and neuropathy on the right side, which was also where I always thought I had pain in my ovary. The Doctor said it was just ovulation, or the I was having is arthritis and sciatica on the right side but when she examined me, noted the right ovary was much larger the left.

Last year, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy. My period disappeared after that surgery, and I had no pain at all. In early 2016, I began to experience severe debilitating pain in my lower back, but it was not the same as my back pain prior to surgery. The doctor has examined me and both ovaries enlarged and thickened now, with the right side three times the normal size. An ultrasound found a nearly 4 cm septated cyst and a nearly 2 cm complex cyst. I have had numerous CT scans and MRIs since 2015 and find it hard to believe that this thing grew to be that size since my last CT scan just a few months ago. I really believe the people who read my tests missed this. I am not certain if it is malpractice or not, but now I will be obtaining these last two tests so that they can be compared to those I had last year.

I have cancer already and don't believe that I am going to be diagnosed with anything other than more cancer with these cysts. My cousin died from ovarian cancer, and I have a large history of cancer on her side of family. I also have been diagnosed with pre-skin cancer and have active pancreatic cancer. I feel medical doctors failed me.

I urge all of you to fight those doctors because they should not dismiss it as nothing. If you have constant pain and it is worse around periods, then they need to listen, because this has been me for the last 15 years and none would listen. My OB/GYN talked right over me like she had no time to listen to it and dismissed it as tiny even though I said I keep getting them. I gave up. Don't do what I did. Fight for yourselves. It may mean your life in the end. Get a new doctor. if they don't listen. Eventually, somebody will.


I have just been diagnosed with having a septated ovarian cyst. Firstly I haven't a clue if this will ruin my chances of having children or even how big the cyst is. I have been having period problems and UTIs after UTIs with blood in my urine. I had to literally ask the doctor to send me for a ultrasound scan. The ultrasound woman said she will let my doctor know and he will refer me. Has anyone waited ages for this? Hope I'm not waiting too long.


I was diagnosed with a septated cyst when I was 35. While I had my child by C-section I had the cyst removed along with my ovary because I was afraid I would get cancer when I went through menopause. After my third son was born, I had a tubal ligation.

When I turned 50, I was going through menopause and went to my doctor. He then told me I had a 7cm cyst on my ovary (the one that was removed). It turns out that the doctor who removed my cyst and ovary left some behind. It was inside my tube. I then went to another doctor and he did the surgery and sure enough, I had ovarian cancer. The little part of the cyst left behind caused it.

I would not fool around with a septated cyst. It has to be watched carefully. Thank God I was a Stage 1 but if I did not go at that time I might not be here today to talk about it.


How much pain is it okay to have? I am pretty uncomfortable. I have a vascular septated cyst bigger than my ovary. I am scheduled to have both taken out in four days. I feeling more pain than ever. Could I be in danger in any way?


I am currently undergoing all of this and I am 18. Ever since I was 13, I have been experiencing a lot of pain and irregular periods. I went to the doctor and they put me on the pill. I did that for a while and then they found out that I have PCOS and I have spent two months going from doctor to doctor trying to find someone to help me take away all of the pain that I have been going through, but no one would help until just recently.

I have a doctor who is going to be doing surgery on me, but I want to know why the other doctors didn't think that this was that important and that I could just wait in pain.

I know that I am just babbling, but I cannot believe this and I am honestly at a loss. If someone out there could help me figure out what is going on and why what has been going on is happening, that would be very helpful.

I would really appreciate anyone posting here who knows anything or is experiencing the same thing because I can't take this anymore. -- Laura


I would like to say that I think this article seems pretty irresponsible. I have been diagnosed as having a septated ovarian cyst, and read this article and the first paragraph made my stomach lurch thinking that this cyst maybe very serious. I continued doing more research to find that it's not necessarily so dangerous. I think this article should be rewritten to be more thoughtful about those reading it. It's not necessary to say that it's the cyst most likely to be cancerous, because you need to have tests first, so it's useless to fill people with fear.


I've never heard of a septated ovarian cyst. I wonder if all cysts can be categorized that way, or if it is only internal ones. I guess it would only be the internal ones that matter, because they can do so much damage if they get caught or rupture, while cysts on the outside of the body are painful and ugly but rarely very dangerous.


@indigomoth - Most of the time I think you have to just pay attention to your body and then make sure the doctor does as well.

I had a troublesome cyst a while ago, although I didn't realize what it was, I just knew I was in pain around a certain area of my lower stomach. To be honest, I thought I had probably torn myself a hernia.

When the doctor examined me, she pressed hard on that area, I guess to see if there were any lumps and she managed to burst the cyst, which, luckily must have been quite small. But I've heard of girls who have had to have surgery after they have ruptured an ovarian cyst, because the bleeding wouldn't stop.

It's weird the way the body works. But at least I feel confident now that I know what a cyst feels like, so I can go to the doctor right away if one bothers me again.


One of my friends suffered from this kind of cyst. She was feeling pretty sick for a while and finally went to the doctor. She had thought, because the symptoms were all period-type symptoms that she shouldn't be complaining, but luckily the doctor took her seriously and managed to find the cyst.

I'm sure there are just as many women who try to get someone to take their symptoms seriously and are told to just grin and bear their lot as women. And, as it says, you have to be so careful, as this kind of cyst can be dangerous.

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    • The female reproductive system, including the ovaries.
      By: OOZ
      The female reproductive system, including the ovaries.
    • A healthy ovary and one from a woman with PCOS.
      By: Alila
      A healthy ovary and one from a woman with PCOS.
    • Septated ovarian cysts can be life-threatening, with an increased risk of becoming maligant.
      By: Alliance
      Septated ovarian cysts can be life-threatening, with an increased risk of becoming maligant.
    • Septated ovarian cysts are more likely to be cancerous than any other type of cyst.
      By: javiindy
      Septated ovarian cysts are more likely to be cancerous than any other type of cyst.
    • Septated ovarian cysts are usually found during routine exams.
      By: Zsolnai Gergely
      Septated ovarian cysts are usually found during routine exams.