Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs grown in the ovary or ovary surface. Woman body consists of two ovaries of the same size and shape of an almond. The ovaries are positioned on each side of the uterus. The Ova or Egg that develops and attains maturity in the ovaries, get released during the monthly cycles of the reproductive years.

An ovarian cyst is a common syndrome in women in their fertile years. As a matter of fact, many women experience a minimum of one follicle or corpus luteum cyst each month. She might not even be aware of the presence of the cyst till the time it causes her any problem with its growth or multiplication. Almost 8% of pre-menopausal women tend to develop large cysts in their ovaries that require treatment.

However, chances of ovarian cysts become less after menopause. In case a woman is suffering from post-menopausal ovarian cysts, there is higher risk for her of ovarian cancer.

See a doctor if you think you have a cyst within you. Common symptoms of having an ovarian cyst like bloating or bleeding while urinating can be identified first.

However, women suffering from ruptured ovarian cysts can see many serious symptoms. The regular pelvic examination is much required to identify the symptoms of this potentially serious problem at an early stage.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are many types of ovarian cysts, like dermoid cysts, or endometrioma cysts. Apart from this, there are two types of functional cysts like follicle and corpus luteum cysts.

  • Follicle cyst

An egg grows inside the woman’s sac located inside the ovaries, known as a follicle, during her menstrual cycle. In most cases, this sac or follicle breaks to open and releases an egg. In case the follicle doesn’t break and open, the follicle fluid develops to form a cyst on the surface of the ovary.

  • Corpus luteum cysts

Follicle sacs usually dissolve soon after releasing an egg. If it doesn’t dissolve due to any sort of seal or closure in the follicle, additional fluid usually develops inside it and accumulate to form a corpus luteum cyst.

Other types of ovarian cysts:

  • Dermoid cysts: These are sac-like growths formed on the ovaries and has hair, fat, or other tissue.
  • Cystadenomas: These are non-malignant growths that develop on the outer surface of an ovary.
  • Endometriomas: These tissues usually grow within the uterus and remain attached to the ovaries forming a cyst.

Some women suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Under this condition, the ovaries are found to be containing a large number of small sized cysts. It causes enlargement of the ovaries. PCOS can cause infertility if left untreated.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

The majority of ovarian cysts are usually very small in size and do not cause any serious problem, or no problem at all. In regular cases, the symptoms like bloating, pain in the abdomen, swelling or changes in blood pressure are noticed. The abdominal pain can be dull or sharp, or may frequently occur to the female.

Cysts, at times, need urgent attention. You need to see your doctor immediately in case you experience the following symptoms:

  • Sudden occurrence of severe belly pain
  • Pain in the abdomen with fever and vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pain in the lower back or thighs
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomitingm
  • Dizziness, weakness, feeling faint
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Severe or sharp pelvic pain
  • Rapid or short of breathing

The above-mentioned symptoms indicate an ovarian torsion or ruptured cyst.

Conditions that cause ovarian cysts

In a few cases, an ovarian cyst is found to be caused by an underlying condition like endometriosis.

Endometriosis usually occurs when the endometrium or pieces of tissues of the uterus are found in the Fallopian tubes, bladder, ovaries, bowel, rectum or vagina. Cysts filled with blood also sometimes develops in this tissue.

Polycystic ovary syndrome or (PCOS) is a condition that creates many harmless small cysts in the ovaries. These cysts are actually small egg follicles, which have been failed to ovulate due to altered hormonal levels.

Treatment of Ovarian Cysts

The doctor usually prescribes treatment to shrink the cyst and not allow it to grow any larger.

Birth control pills

For recurrent ovarian cysts, the doctor usually prescribes oral contraceptives to prevent ovulation and development of any new cysts. These pills also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.

Laparoscopy

Small sized cysts, which are non-malignant in nature can be removed by laparoscopy. The doctor uses a tiny incision to pass it through the navel and insert small surgical instruments in the abdomen through it to remove the cyst. This is a common practice and is mostly used by medical professionals.

Laparotomy

For larger cysts, the doctor usually goes for a surgical procedure to remove the cysts by making a large incision in the abdomen. The procedure is followed by conducting an immediate biopsy to determine whether the cyst is cancerous. The chances of malignancy are higher in women who are over their reproductive ages. Hence, those women are compulsorily prescribed this biopsy program, post the laparotomy procedure.

Ovarian cysts and fertility

Ovarian cysts never prevent a woman from getting pregnant. However, they can make it harder for her to conceive. The presence of ovarian cysts cause repeated miscarriages in some women as well.

The medical treatment and surgeries related to the shrink or removal of ovarian cysts, all are designed to protect the fertility of the woman. The treatment procedure keeps the ovaries intact and only removes the cysts to correct it.

However, at rare occasions, there are cases where both the ovaries have to be removed to save the woman from the infections caused by the cysts. This usually happens when the cysts are detected at a very later or advanced stage. This results in the inability of the woman to produce eggs in future. You should speak to your surgeon in details beforehand to know about the potential effects of the operation on your fertility. The doctor discloses every detail about the woman’s fertility chances to her and her family before operating to remove the ovaries.

To avoid such circumstances, we recommend going for regular screening during the childbearing ages to check the occurrence of ovarian cysts. Also, it is important to immediately consult a doctor in case any of the symptoms of ovarian cyst is identified in the female.

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