Renaissance Women's Group – Austin OBGYN

The Difference Between PCOS and Ovarian Cysts

The difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts explained

The difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts explainedPatients often have a hard time understanding the difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts.  Laura Meritt MD, one of our Austin obgyns says, “PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a confusing term. It is actually a hormonal problem, which can result in a cystic appearance of the ovaries. In contrast, ovarian cysts are typically solitary.” Below are some other differences to help patients distinguish between the two conditions.

Three factors that explain the difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts

When a patient receives a diagnosis, it’s helpful for her to understand the difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts.

  • PCOS causes multiple symptoms while ovarian cysts often do not. PCOS causes irregular ovulation, irregular menstruation, fertility problems, acne and oily skin, excessive hair growth on the face and body, darkened patches of thick skin, multiple fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries and obesity. On the other hand, ovarian cysts may not cause any symptoms, or they may cause mild to severe pain. In rare cases, ovarian cysts can cause twisted ovaries, which is a dangerous condition that requires surgery.
  • No single tests can diagnose PCOS, but doctors have definitive ways to diagnose ovarian cysts. Another difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts is the method of diagnosis. Our Austin obgyns diagnose PCOS using a combination of methods, including documenting the patient’s symptoms, performing blood work and completing a physical examination. If our physicians think PCOS is present, they may also recommend an ultrasound. Our Austin obgyns often diagnose ovarian cysts during a physical examination or ultrasound.
  • PCOS symptoms require treatment, but ovarian cysts may be left untreated. The final difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts is the treatment. Patients who experience the symptoms of PCOS must be treated in order to improve, but not all ovarian cysts need treatment. In some cases, our Austin obgyns leave the cysts untreated and simply monitor them until they resolve on their own. In more serious cases, patients may need surgery.

Our Austin obgyns and staff are happy to explain conditions to patients

Our experienced physicians and staff are always here to answer questions about the difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts. Our Austin obgyns urge patients to learn everything they can about their health. For compassionate care, contact us.

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