Ovarian cysts are a common gynecological issue. The good news is they usually resolve on their own without causing discomfort or rupturing.
That’s why at Daniel S. Kushner, MD, in White Plains and Queens, New York, Dr. Kushner and his team often recommend “watchful waiting” for ovarian cysts. If you have an ovarian cyst and were told that watchful waiting is the best option, you might be wondering what this means.
This period of close observation without intervention involves regular ultrasounds and self-monitoring. Here’s a closer look at what this treatment entails and how it helps protect your reproductive health.
What is an ovarian cyst?
Ovarian cysts develop for many different reasons. During ovulation, a normal part of your reproductive cycle, a functional ovarian cyst develops and breaks open when an egg is released. This cyst is not a cause for concern.
You can also develop what’s called a follicular ovarian cyst, which forms when you ovulate but your ovary doesn’t release an egg. In addition, ovarian cysts can form separately from your menstrual cycle.
Though not always harmful, cysts can sometimes indicate serious health concerns like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you notice any signs of cysts, be sure to contact the team at Daniel S. Kushner, MD.
Here are some common signs of cysts to look out for:
- Bloating or pressure in your lower abdomen
- Pain in your side, back, or thighs
- Pain when having sex
- Needing to urinate more often or urgently
- Unusual uterine bleeding
Depending on your needs and diagnosis, your provider creates a personalized treatment plan, which may include watchful waiting.
What is watchful waiting?
Though the name sounds passive, watchful waiting is a proactive approach in which you and your provider both monitor the situation. There’s no immediate medical intervention.
Most ovarian cysts are harmless and resolve on their own without the need for invasive medical treatment. In watchful waiting, you actively check your body for new changes or symptoms.
If you notice something new, such as pelvic pain, you report this to our team right away. Dr. Kushner also schedules ultrasounds regularly, keeping track of the size and appearance of the cyst to stay aware of any changes or growths.
During watchful waiting, you can continue with your regular activities. Just stay aware of your body’s signals. Watchful waiting is all about balance — being proactive about your health, while staying away from unnecessary procedures or invasive surgeries.
The decision of when or if further intervention is needed comes from you and your provider, with your well-being as the top priority.
When do I need medical attention for an ovarian cyst?
Fortunately, ovarian cysts aren’t usually a medical emergency. When treatment beyond watchful waiting is required, it usually involves medications, like hormone-based contraception. In some cases when a cyst won’t resolve, your provider may recommend minimally invasive surgery.
Sometimes painful symptoms are a sign that a cyst has ruptured. Sex, strenuous exercise, and other intense activities can cause an ovarian cyst to rupture.
A ruptured cyst isn’t usually a medical emergency. In fact, even when a rupture occurs, many women don’t notice or have only minor symptoms, which you can manage with over-the-counter medications and rest as your body heals.
Seek medical care as soon as possible if you experience severe or intense pain, heavy bleeding, or signs of internal bleeding. Very rarely, ovarian cysts may require emergency surgery.
Call Dr. Kushner or get emergency medical care immediately if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:
- Pain with unexplained heavy bleeding
- Pain that causes rapid breathing
- Pain accompanied by fever and vomiting
- Pain that triggers dizziness, weakness, or fainting
For outstanding care for ovarian cysts and all of your gynecological needs, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Daniel S. Kushner, MD.