Did you know that ovarian cysts are very common? In fact, almost every woman who menstruates gets at least one cyst every month as part of her cycle. Usually these cysts dissolve and you don’t even know they were there. However, it’s a different story if the cyst doesn’t go away or if problematic types of cysts form. It is important to know the ovarian cyst symptoms. So you can get the care you need.
Usually, ovarian cysts are harmless enough that prevention shouldn’t be a problem. Instead, watch for any symptoms that may indicate a cyst and tell your doctor. Schedule regular pelvic exams so your doctor can find any cysts that need treatment.
What is an Ovarian Cyst?
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form in or on your ovaries. Most women develop functional cysts as part of the normal menstrual cycle. This happens when the follicles responsible for releasing eggs produce hormones. These cysts are usually asymptomatic and usually go away on their own.
What Are the Types of Ovarian Cysts?
Most ovarian cysts are functional cysts. They form in response to your body’s changes during the menstrual cycle. Less commonly, ovarian cysts form for reasons unrelated to menstruation.
Functional cysts are the most common type of ovarian cyst and are not disease related. They occur as a result of ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). These cysts may be a sign that your ovaries are functioning properly. Functional cysts generally shrink over time, usually within 60 days, without specific treatment.
A small sac in your ovary called a follicle releases an egg every month. A follicular cyst forms when the follicle fails to release an egg. Instead, the follicle fills with fluid and enlarges.
Corpus luteum cysts
After the follicle releases an egg, it forms a hormone-producing group of cells called the corpus luteum. A cyst forms when fluid builds up in the corpus luteum, causing it to grow.
There are other ovarian cysts that are not related to your period. These types of cysts may or may not cause problematic symptoms. For example, dermoid cysts, which develop from embryonic cells, can grow quite large, causing the ovary to move out of position. And polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which multiple cysts develop. This has a negative impact on fertility and your overall health.
Unlike the above conditions, ovarian cysts (tumors) are solid masses of cancer cells.
What Are Ovarian Cyst Symptoms?
Since it is possible to have ovarian cysts without obvious symptoms, ovarian cysts are usually diagnosed during regular pelvic exams. Here are the 7 main ovarian cyst symptoms to watch out for:
Bloating or pressure in your lower abdomen may indicate an ovarian cyst. The bloating or feeling of pressure may come and go.
Pain on one side
As a cyst gets bigger and bigger, it can cause quite a bit of discomfort. This especially on the side where the affected ovary is located.
Pain during sex
Problematic cysts can cause pain or discomfort during intercourse. Other problems, such as an STI, inflammation or prolapse, can also make sex painful. During your pelvic exam, be sure to share your ovarian cyst symptoms to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
If you notice unexplained changes in your bowel movements or urination, a cyst may be the cause. Some women notice an increase in the urge to urinate, while others have problems with their bowels.
Unusual pain during your period
Many women experience cramping or discomfort when their period arrives. But if you notice unusual pain, a cyst could be the problem.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Ovarian cysts can lead to unexpected vaginal spotting or bleeding between periods. If you have irregular bleeding, a cyst may be the cause.
Dull aches in your back and thighs
If you’re experiencing a dull ache in your lower back and thighs with no apparent cause, that’s a clear symptom. It’s then time for a doctor’s appointment to rule out ovarian cysts.
Sometimes an ovarian cyst ruptures or twists the ovary, causing serious complications. If you experience the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
- Abdominal pain accompanied by fever and vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain that appears suddenly
- Abdominal pain accompanied by dizziness, weakness or fainting
- Unexplained heavy bleeding with abdominal pain
- Rapid breathing accompanied by abdominal pain
Can you gain weight with an ovarian cyst?
Yes. Cysts can cause bloating, which contributes to weight gain. Some cysts secrete hormones that can cause you to gain weight.
What Are the Complications of an Ovarian Cyst?
- Cancer cyst. Ovarian cysts that develop after menopause are more likely to become cancerous than cysts that form before menopause.
- Ruptured ovarian cyst. Functional cysts usually rupture without causing any negative symptoms. But sometimes a ruptured cyst can cause severe pain and swelling in your abdomen. The bigger it is, the more likely it is to break.
- Ovarian torsion. Cysts can grow so large that they distort the shape of ovaries, making it more likely to twist. Twisting can impede blood flow to your ovary, causing it to die. Extreme pain, nausea, and vomiting are all signs of ovarian torsion.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cyst or ovarian torsion.
How is an ovarian cyst treated?
Treatment depends on factors such as your age, your symptoms, and the cause of your cyst.
Functional ovarian cysts usually resolve without treatment. If your cyst is likely to be functional, the doctor may suggest a wait and see approach. You may get an ultrasound within a few weeks of diagnosis to see if your cyst has cleared on its own.
Ovarian cyst medications
A doctor can give you medications that contain hormones (such as birth control pills) to stop ovulation and prevent future cysts.
Ovarian cyst surgery
If an ovarian cyst causes symptoms and grows, you may need surgery to remove it. The type of surgery depends on the size of the cyst and how it appears on the ultrasound. The different procedures used include:
- Laparoscopy: This involves inserting a camera through a small incision in the abdomen. They use the device to view your reproductive organs and pelvic cavity. The ovarian cyst can be removed through small incisions (ovarian cystectomy).
- Laparotomy: Your doctor may perform this procedure if the cyst is very large or if there are other concerns.
Dit is een informatief artikel. Ga voor medisch advies altijd naar een medisch specialist.
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