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Erupted Cyst
April 2002

Q. I have heard that women will, from time to time, develop cysts on the ovaries and that sometimes these cysts can burst. Is it normal for cysts to burst? I went to the ER because I was in a tremendous amount of pain. An ER doctor told me that a cyst had burst and that it was not something to be alarmed about. He also said that most women don't have to come to the ER for it... they just endure the pain. Is this true?

A. The word cyst simply means a fluid containing structure. Ovarian cysts are fairly common and most do not cause any symptoms or require medical attention. They develop around the time of ovulation and usually resolve with the hormonal changes as the menstrual cycle proceeds. If a cyst fails to shrink in this manner, it may continue to enlarge and cause internal bleeding which results in the sudden and sharp pain as occurred in your case.

You certainly did the right thing by seeking emergency care. There is no way to distinguish the pain of a cyst from appendicitis or other serious medical conditions. A sonogram (picture made using sound waves) can often confirm the diagnosis, and additional tests may be needed. This is often a one time occurrence but if the problem recurs, treatment with birth control pills or other hormonal methods may be needed.



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