I know the word ‘cyst’ seems ominous at best, but it is not necessarily a cause for great concern. Cysts form on the ovary as a normal function of the ovulation cycle as the ovary prepares to release the egg each month. Normally this cyst ruptures at the release of the egg and converts into a smaller sac called the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum then disappears as menstruation begins.
Ovarian cysts that are not normal are a formed as a result in a malfunction of this process. The follicle fails to rupture, or convert into the corpus luteum. Cysts can occur on one or both ovaries and can be singular or multiple in number. The sacs can be filled with solid material, fluid or a combination of both.
Cysts are very common especially among women between the ages of 30 and 60. Only 15% of these cysts are malignant.
Many women have no symptoms as the cysts grow quietly and unknown. Often the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst is a surprise and is only discovered as a result of routine medical checkups.
If an ovarian cyst ruptures, however there will be symptoms. The most common is a sharp abdominal pain as the cyst breaks, followed by bleeding. Other ovarian cyst symptoms vary depending on the type of cyst and may include the following: intense abdominal pain, changes in the menstrual cycle like irregular late periods or bleeding between periods, heavier menstrual flow than normal, infertility, internal bleeding, severe menstrual cramping, painful intercourse or bowel movements, and weight gain.
One of the most common symptoms is menstrual irregularities. Ovarian cysts can cause your menstrual cycles to be highly variable. You may also experience pain in your pelvis area that radiates through your body to your thighs and lower back. This pain in the pelvis may also exist right before your period begins or right before your period finishes. Pelvic pain can also be found during intercourse.
Other ovarian cyst symptoms include breast tenderness, vomiting and nausea. Ovarian cysts may also cause pain during bowel movements. This can be accompanied with a fullness or heaviness in your abdomen. As well, there may be a lot of pressure on your bladder so that is difficult to fully empty your bladder.
There are some symptoms that are more serious than others and call for immediate medical care. You should visit your doctor as soon as possible if you suffer from nausea and vomiting accompanied by a fever. You should also visit your doctor ASAP if you feel an extreme and sharp pain in your pelvis.
Intercourse, child birth or bodily trauma can all cause a cyst to rupture. If a cyst ruptures infection may occur. Symptoms of an ovarian infection include: fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, cold clammy skin and quicken breathing. It is important to seek medical help quickly if these symptoms occur.
There are 5 types of ovarian cysts (functional cysts, polycystic ovaries, endometrial cysts, cystadenomas and dermoid cysts). To determine the proper course of treatment your doctor will have to diagnose what kind of cyst it is. It is always important to talk to your doctor. Other factors that will determine treatment include the size, location and content of the cysts.
Don’t worry; treatments may not be scary, painful or complicated. With certain kinds of cysts the best course of treatment is to watch and wait because some cysts resolve on their own over time. In this case your doctor will want to see you ever few menstrual cycles.
Some common medications that treat cysts are birth control pills or for women who want to conceive, Provera. It is also common that a pap smear and pelvic exam will be performed.
Sometimes surgery is necessary. Surgeries that address cysts include: Laparoscopic surgery to remove cysts; ovarian cystectomy to remove the ovarian cyst itself, partial oophorectomy to remove cysts and part of the ovary, spalpingo oophorectomy to remove the cyst, ovary and fallopian tube; lastly, and this is rarely the course pressued a total hysterectomy and spalpingo oophorectomy if the cyst turns out to be cancerous. Be sure to get checked if you have ovarian cyst symptoms to get prompt treatment and avoid complications.