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Ovarian Cysts and the Pill

Q: I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst. An ultrasound confirmed it was a simple cyst and I was placed on the Allesse birth control pill for 60 days (instructed to take pills consecutively to suppress my period). Another ultrasound was done indicating the cyst did not dissolve but instead, it stayed the same size.  I was instructed to start on another pill, Ovcon 35, which is a stronger dose.  My concern is that I am 43 and is it safe? I stopped smoking as soon as I started on Allesse. What is the goal of taking the pill? Can it help the cyst dissolve?

This cyst was first picked up via a CT Scan and since this time I've had several ultrasounds. Would it be better to remove it?

Thank you, D.E.

Dr. Donnica:
The best news is that you stopped smoking!   Low dose birth control pills are considered "safe" for non-smoking women over 35 so long as they have no other risk factors.

Sometimes, birth control pills can help reduce the size of certain types of ovarian cysts.  When they aren't able to, we can assume the cyst is probably a "functional cyst", meaning that it doesn't respond to hormones.  Whether or not you need to have it removed surgically will depend upon a few things:  the size, whether it's causing you any symptoms, your family history, and whether your CA-125 blood test is normal.  You must ask your doctor whether s/he thinks it should be removed or not.

For more information about the CA-125 blood test, click here.

Best regards,
Donnica Moore MD
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 1/20/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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