What Is an Ovarian Cyst After Menopause?

An ovarian cyst is a solid or fluid-filled sac that forms in or on the ovaries. Anyone with ovaries can develop an ovarian cyst, but it is most commonly found in people with regular menstrual cycles. It is also possible to experience a cyst after menopause. Ovarian cysts are usually benign but may raise the risk of ovarian cancer.

The article provides an overview of ovarian cysts after menopause, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Healthcare provider performing an ultrasound on a patient

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Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are several types of ovarian cysts. The most common type is functional cysts. These cysts are a normal part of menstruation and typically resolve independently after two to three months. Functional cysts include:

  • Follicular cysts, which develop during the menstrual cycle, do not cause symptoms, and usually go away after three months.
  • Corpus luteum cysts, which develop after the egg is released during the menstrual cycle and typically go away after a few weeks. 

Typically, people who have gone through menopause do not develop functional cysts. This is because they no longer have monthly periods, and their ovaries are less active. Other types of ovarian cysts include:

  • Endometriomas: Endometriosis (when uterine lining cells grow into other areas of the body) is the cause of these cysts.
  • Dermoid cysts, which develop from cells that were present at birth and do not cause symptoms.
  • Cystadenomas, which are filled with watery fluid and can grow into large cysts.
  • Malignant cysts, which are cancerous. However, most ovarian cysts are not malignant.

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

Most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. If your cyst is large, it may lead to the following symptoms:

If an ovarian cyst ruptures, it can cause sudden, severe pain. Less common symptoms of ovarian cysts include:


The most common causes of ovarian cysts involve the menstrual cycle, which includes hormonal changes, endometriosis, and pregnancy.

For postmenopausal individuals, possible causes of ovarian cysts include:


See your healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of an ovarian cyst. Diagnostic tests to expect include:

  • Pelvic exam: Your provider will likely perform this test to feel the ovaries for cysts.
  • Ultrasound: Sound waves create images and can show the cyst's shape, size, and location. It can also determine if the ovarian cyst is filled with fluid or solid tissue.
  • Hormone levels: Checking your estrogen levels help to determine if hormones caused the cyst.
  • Blood test: If you are postmenopausal, your provider may recommend a blood test to measure the cancer antigen (CA-125) in the blood. There will be a high level of this in those with ovarian cancer.

The risk of ovarian cancer with ovarian cysts is low. Most cysts require conservative observation rather than surgery.


Most ovarian cysts are benign and do not require treatment. About 8% of premenopausal individuals develop ovarian cysts that are large enough to require treatment.

If you have gone through menopause, you are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer. About 5–10% of people with ovarian cysts require surgery to remove them. Of those individuals, 13–21% have cancerous cysts.

Postmenopausal people are more likely to require surgery than those with regular menstrual cycles. Surgery may involve removing the cyst or the entire ovary. The two types of surgeries for treating ovarian cysts are:

  • Laparoscopy makes a small cut in the abdomen, looks inside the pelvic area, and removes the cyst. It is often for smaller cysts that look benign.
  • Laparotomy is for larger ovarian cysts, especially if there are cancer concerns. It involves making a larger cut in the abdomen. 

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

See your healthcare provider when you develop any new symptoms of an ovarian cyst. If you suddenly develop severe abdominal or pelvic pain, seek help immediately. This could signify a ruptured cyst, which could cause internal bleeding. See your provider if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Fever
  • Vomiting 
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Sudden, sharp pain


The prognosis for most ovarian cysts is good. The majority of ovarian cysts are benign. Cancer risk increases with age, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as you develop symptoms.


Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on the ovaries. Most ovarian cysts are benign and do not require treatment. As we age, the risk of ovarian cancer goes up. Postmenopausal people are at an increased risk of malignant ovarian cysts. Possible symptoms of ovarian cysts include bloating, abdominal swelling, and pain during sexual intercourse. After menopause, the most common causes of ovarian cysts are pelvic infection, PCOS, and hypothyroidism.

A Word From Verywell

Ovarian cysts are common in people with regular menstrual periods. After you go through menopause, ovarian cysts are less common. They are also more likely to be malignant. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have noticed symptoms of an ovarian cyst, such as bloating. It’s helpful to remember that most cysts are benign and harmless. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if I have an ovarian cyst?

    Common symptoms of ovarian cysts include bloating, abdominal swelling, and pain during sexual intercourse. The only way to know if you have an ovarian cyst is to see your healthcare provider for an exam and diagnostic tests. 

  • Can you get an ovarian cyst after menopause?

    Yes, it is possible to have an ovarian cyst after menopause. It is more common to develop ovarian cysts with a regular menstrual cycle because the ovaries are more active. After menopause, it is less common to have an ovarian cyst.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Office on Women’s Health. Ovarian cysts.

  2. American Cancer Society. What is ovarian cancer?

  3. National Library of Medicine. Ovarian cysts: overview.

  4. Sarkar M, Wolf MG. Simple ovarian cysts in postmenopausal women: scope of conservative management. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012;162(1):75-78. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2011.12.034

  5. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Management of ruptured ovarian cyst.

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.