Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, S.C
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Chicago, physicians explain treatment and surgery for ovarian cysts

The team at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates offers comprehensive women’s care to patients from Chicago, to Northwest Indiana and the surrounding areas. Ovarian cysts are common among women who still get their period. In many cases, they go away on their own. For other patients, surgery may be necessary for ovarian cyst removal.

The team at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates offers comprehensive women’s care to patients from Chicago, to Northwest Indiana and the surrounding areas

What is an ovarian cyst?

Females have two ovaries, the sacs where eggs develop and mature. At some point in their lives, many women develop an ovarian cyst which is a solid or fluid-filled pocket that forms inside or on one of the ovaries. Some women get one as part of their monthly cycle without knowing it. Cysts can also occur during pregnancy.

Functional cysts are the most common and form during the regular menstrual cycle. During menstruation, the ovaries grow follicles each month. These follicles release eggs during ovulation. For some women, the structures continue to grow forming a functional cyst. Functional cysts may be follicular cysts or corpus luteum cysts. Both types are generally small, painless, and disappear on their own within a couple menstrual cycles. Other types of cysts do not occur as part of the normal menstrual cycle and should be assessed. Cysts that are not functional are tumors and will not go away. It these cysts stay small and look benign on ultrasound they can be followed consecutively with ultrasounds. If cysts continue to grow, cause pain, or look concerning on ultrasound they may need to be removed.

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Most often, a cyst is not a problem. Generally painless and harmless, cysts may go away without treatment. For some women, ovarian cysts never cause any symptoms and disappear on their own. However, if it lingers or gets bigger, it may become painful. Larger cysts may cause abdominal pain or fullness, nausea, pain during sex, or the urge to urinate. Rarely, a cyst is cancerous but it is possible. If you experience sudden, severe abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, dizziness, and fast breathing, contact your doctor right away for emergency attention.

Treatment for ovarian cysts

Image of family traeted for ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts may be diagnosed during a pelvic exam or vaginal ultrasound. Often times, a cyst requires no treatment. Depending on your symptoms or the type of cyst, your Northwestern OBGYN may choose to monitor it to see if it goes away on its own. Pain medication may help with your symptoms. Birth control may be prescribed to help prevent future cysts from forming. This is an option for patients who frequently get functional cysts during ovulation. The medication lessens the chance of future cysts.

Surgical removal of the cyst may be recommended for the following reasons:

  • The cyst is larger than 4 inches.
  • It does not go away on its own after being monitored for a few months.
  • An ultrasound shows it may not be a simple functional cyst.
  • Patients are experiencing symptoms.
  • Growths are present in both ovaries.
  • The patient is a young girl who has never had a menstrual period or the patient is near or has already gone through menopause.
  • The doctor suspects the cyst could be cancerous, precancerous or just can’t tell for sure that they are benign.
  • The doctor suspects ovarian cancer.

Depending upon the cyst, removal may be the cyst alone or the ovary as well. There are two types of surgery for ovarian cysts. Laparoscopy is used for nonfunctional cysts when cancer is not suspected. The patient is placed under general anesthesia. The doctor makes a tiny cut above or below the belly button. A small camera allows your doctor to see the cyst while another tool removes the cyst or ovary. This is generally an outpatient procedure and the patient can return to work within a day to a week depending upon the amount of strenuous activity performed. Most cysts can be removed by our experts laparoscopically.

Laparotomy is performed when cysts are larger, are on both ovaries, or may be cancerous. General anesthesia is used. The doctor makes an incision in the abdomen to see the ovaries. If needed, a biopsy may be taken during surgery. The cyst is removed. If necessary, the ovary or ovaries may be as well. This is an inpatient surgery that requires staying in the hospital for a couple days. Full recovery may take six weeks.

Ovarian cysts generally do not cause problems. However, if you are experiencing severe pelvic pain combined with fever, nausea, and vomiting, contact your doctor as you could have an infection that needs to be treated.

If you need a Northwestern GYN, contact our Chicago office today for an appointment with our experienced team. Call 312-440-9400.


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women’s healthcare, our team of experts is dedicated to providing every woman highest level of sensitive, specialized care

At Northwestern Women's Health Associates

your unique needs are our highest priority.

Making use of advanced technology and staying on the cutting edge of women’s healthcare, our team of experts is dedicated to providing every woman who visits our office with the highest level of sensitive, specialized care. At our office in Chicago, you can receive exceptional obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) services from any one of our highly skilled doctors, including Stanley Friedell, MD; Abbie Roth, MD; Regina Belmonte, MD; Sharon Wise, MD; Julianne Morton, MD; Whitney Dunn, MD; Aleena Lakhanpal, MD ; and Margaret Kistner, MD. With their combined expertise, this team of board-certified doctors at Northwestern Women's Health Associates makes it possible for you to receive efficient, personalized care from the preeminent women’s hospital in the Midwest.

Success Stories

  • 5 Star Review
    "Wonderful experience with Dr. Julianne Morton @ NW Women's Associates. I've recommended her to countless girlfriends. Being a first time mom, I went through many physical symptoms and emotions that accompany pregnancy. She is extremely thorough, patient, and has wonderful bedside manner. I felt confident going into delivery with Dr. Morton taking the lead with my delivery. Wonderful practice!"

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  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Morton is absolutely amazing. She cared for me throughout my first pregnancy and we found her to be kind and caring and straightforward - could not have asked for a better experience! Dr. Dunn ended up being on call during my delivery and she was great as well. I have always found the nurses and office staff to be friendly and on top of things - very happy with the practice!"

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  • 5 Star Review
    "I had to have a laproscopic hysterectomy done by Dr. Friedell and all went fabulously! They were very detailed in pre-op which made a lot of difference. I came out of surgery feeling great and post op I was back to work within two weeks. Everyone at the practice, at the hospital, at pre-op were incredible."

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  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr.Julianne Morton is amazing! I was recommended by a friend when I moved to the Chicago area and was looking for an OB-GYN. I have seen her for two years in Chicago for my yearly exam. She is beyond kind and great at what she does. Dr.Morton makes you feel very comfortable and is such an incredible doctor! I have recommended her to all of my friends as well who need a new gyno/OB-GYN."

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  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Morton is a really great doctor. She has an incredible bedside manner and makes you feel comfortable. She makes sure to ask if you have any questions and will happily answer all of them with you. Would highly recommend!"

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  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr. Friedell is amazing! He helped delivered my first baby and the whole process was super smooth and stress free. All the staff in the office are super friendly too. Highly recommend!"

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  • 5 Star Review
    "Dr Freidell is extremely knowledgeable, thorough and really cares about his patients. He is very good at getting to the root of the problem, especially with overlapping symptoms. He guided me through all my options and their implications. I will highly recommend him and his team."

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  • 5 Star Review
    "I love Dr. Belmonte. I have been going to her since 2006! She rocks!!! She is straight to the point, I love that about her. When I leave her office after seeing her I always feel great, like a just left a good friends house or something!"
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  • 5 Star Review

    "I can not tell you how wonderful my experiences have been. Dr. Sharon Wise is my doctor and she is fantastic. She is straightforward and honest about treatments and procedures. I enjoy her sense of humor, and I found her bedside manner when delivering my son to be excellent. "

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