What causes an ovarian cyst?

Ovarian cysts occur naturally as a part of a woman's monthly cycle, but they can sometimes persist and enlarge, causing pain.

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Ovarian cysts are most often caused by ovulation. These are called functional cysts and they tend to dissolve over a 2 to 3 month period. Some ovarian cysts are caused by a hormonal irregularity called polycystic ovarian syndrome in which the entire ovary is filled with numerous cysts that are causing abnormal amounts of hormonal production. Other times cysts can be caused by tumors, which can be either benign or cancerous. The most common tumor of the ovary is a mature cystic teratoma (dermoid cyst).

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Most ovarian cysts form around ovulation, before or during. The causes are not clearly understood. Sometimes it may be related to too much estrogen production. They are more common in people with conditions where their hormones are out of whack, like polycystic ovarian syndrome and in people with endometriosis. Rarely the cysts are a tumor. Normal functional cysts may resolve on their own. Your health care provider should evaluate all painful cysts.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.