What Is a Dermoid Cyst on the Ovary?

Ovarian dermoid cysts are pockets that form in the ovaries from the same cells that produce eggs. They may contain tissue or structures such as skin, hair or teeth. Dermoid cysts are overwhelmingly not cancerous; however, if they become too large, they can push the ovary out of position, potentially causing a condition called ovarian torsion, a twisting of the ovary. Dermoid cysts are non-functional cysts, as they do not form through the menstrual cycle, explains Mayo Clinic.

A dermoid cyst's symptoms may include pelvic pain, either generally or during intercourse; pain during bowel movements; a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the stomach; or an increased need to urinate due to the cyst's pressing on the bladder. Individuals should see a doctor immediately if they experience sudden and severe abdominal or pelvic pain, potentially accompanied by vomiting, notes Mayo Clinic.

Unless it ruptures or causes ovarian torsion, a dermoid cyst is often harmless. Treatment for such a cyst, may involve simple monitoring via periodic pelvic exam and ultrasound for any change in the cyst. In more serious cases or if the cyst causes pain or discomfort, a doctor may recommend surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. The surgery may be laparoscopic, where the surgeon inserts a small camera and tools through several small incisions to remove the tumor, or it may be laparotomic, where the surgeon creates a larger incision through which to work, notes WebMD.