Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets in an ovary or on its surface. Women have two ovaries — each about the size and shape of an almond — on each side of the uterus. Eggs (ova), which develop and mature in the ovaries, are released in monthly cycles during childbearing years.
Many women have ovarian cysts at some time. Most ovarian cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. The majority disappears without treatment within a few months. However, ovarian cysts — especially those that have ruptured — can cause serious symptoms.
Most cysts don’t cause symptoms and go away on their own. However, a large ovarian cyst can cause:
- Pelvic pain — a dull or sharp ache in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst
- Fullness or heaviness in your abdomen
- Pain – during intercourse and breast pain
- Bleeding – unusual bleeding
Treatment depends on:
- Type and size of cyst
In many cases you can wait and be re-examined to see if the cyst goes away within a few months. This is typically an option if you are pre-menopausal, if you have no symptoms and an ultrasound shows you have a simple, small, fluid-filled cyst. Follow-up with pelvic ultrasounds at intervals to see if your cyst changes in size.
Hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, keep ovarian cysts from recurring. However, birth control pills won’t shrink an existing cyst.
Removing a cyst that is large, doesn’t look like a functional cyst, is growing, continues through two or three menstrual cycles, or causes pain. Some cysts can be removed without removing the ovary (ovarian cystectomy). In some cases, your doctor might suggest removing the affected ovary and leaving the other intact (oophorectomy).
If a cystic mass is cancerous, your doctor will likely refer you to a gynecologic cancer specialist. You might need to have your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed (total hysterectomy) and possibly chemotherapy or radiation. Your doctor is also likely to recommend surgery when an ovarian cyst develops after menopause.
- Regular pelvic examinations help ensure that changes in your ovaries are diagnosed as early as possible.
- Be alert to changes in your monthly cycle, including unusual menstrual symptoms, especially ones that persist for more than a few cycles
RISKS – IF LEFT UNTREATED
These include taking the fertility drug clomiphene (Clomid), which is used to cause you to ovulate.
Sometimes, the cyst that forms when you ovulate stays on your ovary throughout your pregnancy.
This condition causes uterine endometrial cells to grow outside your uterus. Some of the tissue can attach to your ovary and form a growth.
A severe pelvic infection
If the infection spreads to the ovaries, it can cause cysts.
A previous ovarian cyst
If you’ve had one, you’re likely to develop more.
“Keep up with your health and live up to an early detection”
ARE YOU AT RISK OF HAVING OVARIAN CYSTS?