Ovarian Cysts

Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.

Q. Would you advise a hysterectomy for a 49-year-old woman who has three cysts on one of her ovaries? They have not gone away in two months, but also have not grown, and the CA-125 test results were OK. I also have three fibroid tumors in my uterus. I am just starting to experience menopausal symptoms.

A. Many women have ovarian cysts, and three cysts on one ovary are not a reason to pursue major surgery, which has its own risks. If you already were going to have your uterus removed (for example if you had large fibroids or painful bleeding) then, at your age, the recommendation is to remove the ovaries as well. However, ovarian cysts alone are not a compelling reason for such surgery.

Other questions which could influence this decision include whether you have a very high risk of ovarian cancer, such as if a first degree relative had this disease or if you have a genetic mutation (BRCA 1 or 2) which predisposes women to breast and ovarian cancer.

Continue to have regular examinations and consider hormone replacement therapy when you are menopausal since this may decrease the size of the cysts.