Ovarian Cysts

woman black hair clenching stomach painOvarian cysts are growths found on or within the ovaries. There are many types of cysts. Functional cysts, which are not caused by a disease, are common and can form from ovulation. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and ovarian Cancer can cause disease-related cysts.

 

What is an ovarian carcinoma?

An ovarian cyst refers to a sac containing fluid or semisolid material. It forms within or on top of one of the ovaries. The ovaries, which are small organs located in the pelvis that produce female hormones and store eggs cells, are small. Many cysts are benign and normal. Functional cysts aren’t caused by disease and occur when an egg is released from the ovary. Functional cysts usually shrink over time, often within 60 days without any treatment. Although functional ovarian cysts are common, they should not be confused for other cysts that can be caused by disease. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and ovarian Cancer can also cause growths on the ovaries. If you experience any of the symptoms, consult your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what type of cyst it is.

SYMPTOMS & CAUSES

What causes an ovarian cancer?

It is unknown what causes ovarian cysts.

What are the symptoms for an ovarian cyst.

Smaller cysts may cause no symptoms but larger cysts may cause these symptoms:

  • A dull, aching feeling in the back or pelvic pain.
  • Feeling full (bloating) in the lower abdomen.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • It can be painful.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which can cause long-term symptoms, is possible. This condition can cause irregular periods, as well as other hormonal problems such obesity and infertility. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also causes hirsutism, an increased growth of body hair, and difficulties losing weight.

What are the complications associated with an ovarian cyst

A cyst can rupture and cause severe pain and swelling. The cyst will often resorb on its own.

DIAGNOSIS AND TEST

How can an ovarian cyst be diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will first rule pregnancy out as the cause for your symptoms. To diagnose an ovarian cyst, your healthcare provider may use these tests:

  • A pelvic examination: The doctor uses an instrument that widens the vagina to inspect the cervix, uterus, and vagina. The doctor will also feel the reproductive organs for any changes or lumps.
  • Blood tests: These tests measure certain hormone levels in blood.
  • Ultrasound: This is a test that uses sound waves to produce images of the internal organs of the body. This test can detect cysts in the ovaries.
  • Laparoscopy: This is a procedure that the doctor performs in an operating room. The doctor inserts a small device into the abdomen through an incision. The device allows the doctor to view the pelvic cavity and reproductive organs. A cyst can be removed if it is detected at this stage.

TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT

What is the best way to treat an ovarian cyst?

Functional ovarian cysts usually disappear without treatment. To stop future cyst formation, your healthcare provider might prescribe hormone-containing medications (such as birth control pills). Functional cysts will not form if you don’t ovulate. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove a cyst.

What kinds of surgery can be used to treat ovarian cysts?

The size and appearance of the cysts will determine the type of surgery that is performed. These are the different types of procedures:

  • Laparoscopy: The doctor inserts a small device into the abdomen through a small incision. The device allows the doctor to view the pelvic cavity and reproductive organs. A doctor can remove the cyst by making small incisions.
  • Laparotomy: This procedure involves a larger incision to remove the cyst or cysts if cancerous.

PREVENTION

Is it possible to prevent ovarian cysts?

Ovulation can be stopped by taking hormone-containing medications (such as birth control pills). Many women who take low-dose oral contraceptives can still ovulate. While there is no evidence to support the claim that oral contraceptives reduce the formation of ovarian cysts in women, many doctors still recommend this regimen.

LIVING WITH

When do I need to call my healthcare provider

If any of these symptoms occur, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Your periods become irregular or painful.
  • Your abdominal pain doesn’t go away.
  • Your abdomen becomes swollen or enlarged.
  • It is difficult to urinate or empty your bladder completely.
  • Intercourse causes pain.
  • Feelings of fullness, pressure or discomfort in the abdomen.
  • You lose weight for no apparent reason.
  • You feel generally sick.
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Iowa Women's Health Center

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