What is an Ovarian Cyst? Ovarian cysts are the sacs or pockets filled with fluid found either inside or on the surface of the ovaries. We all know that women have two ovaries (one on each side of the uterus) each having a shape and size about that of an almond. Eggs, as we know, develop, and mature in the ovaries till they are released every month in their monthly (menstrual) cycles during their childbearing years. At times, fluid filled sacs (cysts) can be found growing in/on either one or both of the ovaries. Many women have ovarian cysts at some point in their lives as these are normal to be found considering the fact that they develop as normal parts of the reproductive/menstrual cycles. Most of these ovarian cysts present either little or no discomfort of any kind and may disappear within a few months without even any kind of treatment. However, there may be times when these ovarian cysts tend to be problematic as they can cause serious symptoms- particularly those that rupture. A great majority of these ovarian cysts are benign (non-cancerous) and hence, are not really matters of stress. There are, however, times of concern when these ovarian cysts can be cancerous(malignant) or may become cancerous and hence, becoming matters of concern. Hence, to protect the health, one should have regular pelvic exams and be aware of the symptoms that can indicate a potentially serious or alarming problem.
Ovarian Cysts Causes:
There are a lot of potential causes that can be responsible for the development of cysts in/on your ovaries. These ovarian cyst causes may include one or more of the following:
Ovarian Cyst Types:
Ovarian cysts can have a varied range of sizes as they can range from being smaller than the size of a pea to being larger than the size of a watermelon. The two main types of ovarian cyst include:
1) Functional Cysts: These are the most common types of ovarian cysts that develop as parts of the menstrual cycles and hence, are harmless. These can develop usually in case of women receiving any kind of infertility treatments.
The functional cysts can further be divided into following two types:
2) Pathological Cysts: These cysts are the least common ovarian cysts as these are formed because of abnormal cell growth. Not every cyst is a functional one as sometimes, cysts can also be developed due to some underlying conditions that one may have. These cysts are found more in case of women who have been through the menopause.
These cysts include the following types:
The chances of one having ovarian cysts gets increased to great heights if she has any of the following conditions:
It is very important to have regular pelvic examinations by a competent doctor as some women may develop unusual complications with ovarian cysts. These complications may include:
Ovarian Cyst Symptoms:
Most of the times, ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms as these cysts are mostly small in size. The symptoms may start appearing as the cyst advances or grows larger in size. These symptoms can be one or more of the following:
There are also a few symptoms indicating need for urgent medical attention like:
These symptoms may hint towards ovarian cyst complications like ruptured cyst or an ovarian torsion.
Ovarian Cysts Diagnosis:
Ovarian cysts can be diagnosed during a regular pelvic examination. Swelling can be noticed on one of the ovaries which is then followed by an ultrasound test (safe and painless imaging test in which high frequency sound waves are used to produce an image of the internal organs) in order to confirm the presence of an ovarian cyst. An ultrasound test can be used as it tells us about the size, place, shape of the ovarian cyst along with the composition (whether it is solid, or liquid filled).
Other imaging tools/techniques that can be used to diagnose ovarian cysts are:
Your doctor may not recommend a treatment plan as soon as the cyst is confirmed because most of these cysts disappear just after a few weeks or months. However, if there are not any positive changes in your condition or in case the cyst increases in the size, your doctor may request you to go for the additional tests that are effective in finding other causes of the experienced symptoms. These tests are:
Ovarian Cyst Treatment:
There are a lot of things on which the treatment for ovarian cyst depends. There are a lot of factors like the age of the woman, whether she is having her menstrual periods or not, symptoms, location of the cyst, etc. As we have already discussed, almost all of the functional cysts get shrunken down in a few months. Still, if you keep getting such cysts regularly, or in case such cysts grow larger in size then your doctor may recommend one of the following treatment methods to you:
1) Birth Control Pills: If someone is having recurrences of ovarian cysts one after the other, their doctor can prescribe oral contraceptive pills in order to stop the ovulation and hence, reducing the chances of the occurrence of any ovarian cysts further. These contraceptives can also significantly decrease the risk of one getting ovarian cancer.
In case the above-mentioned treatment plan does not work for you then there are other surgical procedures that can be done in order to get rid of the ovarian cysts.
You can know if you need surgical help by the following pointers:
2) Laparoscopy: This refers to the procedure in which a doctor makes a small incision in your lower abdomen to insert a thin device along with a camera and light to observe and then eliminate the cysts. This surgical treatment is used in cases where the cyst is small
3) Laparotomy: In case of woman with larger cysts (where the cysts can be suspicious), the doctor can also remove the cyst by making a large incision in the abdomen. An immediate biopsy of the cyst is done afterwards to see if the cysts is cancerous or not. If the cyst is cancerous then this may be followed by a hysterectomy in which your ovaries and uterus are removed to prevent any further occurrences of ovarian cysts.
Most of the ovarian cysts disappear on their own within a span of three to four months and hence, are not matters of stress. However, for the few cases where these cysts are recurrent, there are many matters of concern/stress as such cysts can be problematic and can even lead to a fatal problem. If such cysts are not treated timely or are left untreated, these can also have drastic effects on your fertility. Hence, you really need to have a competent doctor by your side because, in the end, it all comes down to the expertise of the doctor and trust of the patient.