Ovarian Cysts: Symptoms, Treatment and Types

ovarian cyst

Ovaries play an important role in regulating our reproductive system. Sometimes some issues can affect the normal regulation of these organs. Ovarian cysts can appear in many women and may not harm you.

There are different types of cysts in your ovaries. However, the common types are functional ovarian cysts that form during your menstrual cycle.

Moreover, these are usually benign i.e. not cancerous.

You might not know about their presence. But in some rare cases, it can cause problems. Therefore, it is important to keep monitoring your health. Follow along and learn more about ovarian cysts.

Ovaries and Their Function in Reproductive System

The female reproductive system consists of ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, and accessory glands. Ovaries are small almond-shaped and sized female gonads. They protect the eggs that a woman is going to produce in her lifetime, secrete hormones, and moreover, release eggs in a monthly cycle.

Along with producing eggs, it produces estrogen and progesterone hormones. The egg travels through the reproductive system and if unfertilized, results in periods.

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid or semisolid substances. They appear inside the ovary or on its surface. Developing ovarian cysts is quite normal in many women, at least once, at some point in life. They are most common in pregnant women or those who haven’t gone through menopause yet.

Ovarian CystMany of these cysts are not dangerous as they disappear after a while. Most of the time, these ovaries are painless, and you do not register their presence at all as there are no symptoms. Hence, they do not require treatment.

In some cases where some complications are developed like the cyst doesn’t disappear, however, it increases in size or if the cyst is ruptured, you may experience symptoms and would have to see a doctor.

Symptoms

As you know, cysts generally do not cause any symptoms and most of the time, you don’t even realize you have them.

In case the cysts do not disappear or increase in size, there are chances that you might experience some symptoms that indicate that you might have some problems and should get it checked by a doctor, according to women health.

You should lookout for the following symptoms and see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Pelvic pain
  • Feeling of Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Heaviness in abdomen
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pain during sex
  • Painful bowel movements and urination
  • Need to urinate often
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Irregular periods, flow heavier or lighter than normal
  • Weight gain

Signs and SymptomsThere might be cases where you might need medical attention quickly. In case you feel the following symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

  • Severe and sudden pelvic pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Faintness
  • Rapid breathing

Such symptoms may indicate that you might have a ruptured cyst and you should seek help immediately. This might get complicated if not treated on time.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are many types of Ovarian Cysts which are as follows:

Functional Ovarian cysts
These are sacs, that form on the surface of an individual’s ovaries during or after ovulation. Usually, the sac goes away after releasing the egg. However, if it does not, or if the sac closes up after releasing the egg, the sac fills with fluid.

Some complications can occur if the ovary does not release the egg and it keeps growing in size. These cysts are harmless as they disappear within two or three menstrual cycles.

Follicular Cysts

These are benign ovarian cysts. These are filled with fluids of tissue that can develop on or in your ovaries. They can occur in women of reproductive age, as a result of ovulation.

Corpus luteum cyst

When a follicle releases its egg, it begins producing estrogen and progesterone for conception. This follicle is now called the corpus luteum.

Sometimes, fluid accumulates inside the follicle, causing the corpus luteum to grow into a cyst. These cysts are usually harmless, rarely cause pain, and often disappear within two or three menstrual cycles.

Types of Ovarian CystsDermoid cysts

They form embryonic cells and contain tissue for development of body parts, such as hair, skin or teeth. They usually happen on the face, lower back, and ovaries. They’re rarely cancerous.

Cystadenomas

It is a benign tumor that develops from ovarian tissue. These develop on the surface of an ovary and might fill with liquid with a watery or a mucous material. They can large in size.

Endometriomas

These develop in the case of endometriosis especially if it is the third and fourth stage in which uterine endometrial cells grow outside your uterus. Some of the tissue can attach to your ovary and form growth.

All these cysts can enlarge over time causing the ovary to move out of position. This can, however, result in painful twisting of your ovary called ovarian torsion. Ovarian torsion may also result in decreasing or stopping blood flow to the ovary.

Causes

Following are the risk factors that can cause problems and be a reason for cyst formations:

Hormonal problems

Hormonal problems caused by fertility drugs that are used to cause ovulation. These drugs can create imbalances in hormone production

Endometriosis

This condition causes uterine endometrial cells to grow outside your uterus. Some tissues can form an outgrowth on the outside of the uterus causing a cyst.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the cyst formed during ovulation can remain in your ovary throughout the pregnancy.

Pelvic infection

If the pelvic infection is spread to the ovaries, it can cause cysts.

Previous ovarian cyst

If you’ve had an experience of ovarian cyst before, it is more likely that you will develop it again.

Complications

Cystic ovarian masses can develop after menopause which might be cancerous. In order to get it diagnosed, get yourself checked with a doctor regularly. Some complications are as follows:

Ovarian Torsion

This can happen when the cyst enlarges in size and causes the uterus to twist painfully and move out of its place. This is called ovarian torsion. It can cause severe pelvic pain, nausea and vomiting.

Rupture

A rupture in the cyst can cause severe pain and internal bleeding. The larger the cyst, the greater the risk of rupture. Vigorous activity that affects the pelvis, such as vaginal intercourse increases the risk.

Diagnosis

A routine pelvic examination by the doctor is the way to diagnose an ovarian cyst. If some kind of swelling is felt on the ovary, the doctor may advise you to get further tests done to make understand the exact problem.

Moreover, imaging helps you get information about the inside of your body and notice any abnormalities. Various imaging tools like CT Scan, MRI and ultrasound tests can be used to diagnose ovarian cysts and learn about inner conditions of your ovaries.

All these tests, however, view the ovary differently in order to get a whole picture to understand the problem e.g. CT scan for cross-sectional images etc.

DiagnosisThese tests help you understand the location, size and nature of the cysts found in and around your ovaries.

Moreover, there are possibilities that cysts can disappear by themselves in a month or so. So, the doctor may not prescribe a treatment right away and may call you for another test.

Doctors can perform different tests, in case the cyst does not disappear. They include pregnancy tests, hormone level tests and CA 125 blood test for cancer screening.

Treatment Options

Different treatments may be adopted by your doctor to treat ovarian cysts. One of these treatments is either medication or different types of surgeries. Some are as follows:

Birth Control Pills

Oral contraceptives is one of the treatments to stop ovulation and preventing the development of new cysts in case you have recurrent development of cysts. Oral contraceptives helps reduce risk of ovarian cancer.

Laparoscopy

In this case, your doctor will make a small incisio to remve a small cyst. This process is called laparoscopy. Your doctor can perform a laparoscopy to surgically remove the cyst.

Moreover, a tiny incision near your navel and a small instrument is inserted into the abdomen in this procedure to remove the cyst.

Treatment OptionsLaparotomy

In this surgery, doctors make a large incision in your abdomen, in case of a large cyst, to remove the cyst surgically. They will perform a biopsy to determine the nature of the cyst i.e. if the cyst is cancerous In that case, hysterectomy can also be an option i.e. to remove your ovaries and uterus.

Ovarian Cysts and Ovarian Cancer

It’s possible to have an ovarian cyst and not realize it. Like noncancerous ovarian cysts, cancerous tumors sometimes cause no or only minor symptoms at first. They’re typically hard to feel, even during a physical exam. That’s why it’s difficult to detect early-stage ovarian cancer.

Moreover, symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those of ovarian cysts. They include:

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Having trouble eating
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Painful intercourse

Prevention

Ovarian cysts can’t be prevented. However, routine gynecologic examinations can detect ovarian cysts early. The symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic symptoms of an ovarian cyst.

Therefore, it’s important to visit your doctor and receive a correct diagnosis. The following symptoms can be a trigger for you to see a doctor immediately.

  • changes in your menstrual cycle
  • ongoing pelvic pain
  • weight loss
  • abdominal fullness/bloating

Takeaway

Cysts can appear and disappear inside your ovaries and they cause no problem. In case of recurrent cysts or cysts that persist in your ovaries, you need to see a doctor. In order to find these cysts, it is imperative that you regularly get a pelvic exam.

If these cysts are left untreated, they can cause infertility as is common with polycystic ovary syndrome. Certain treatments can improve fertility in many women.

The approach takes by your doctor also depends on many factors. If you are menopausal, the doctor might not want to wait and see the changes in the cyst. He might recommend surgery to remove the cyst and examine it. This is because the risk of developing a cancerous cyst increases after menopause.

However, it is imperative that you keep seeing your doctor regularly and get pelvic exams in order to monitor any cysts that might develop.

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