Ovarian cysts are bags filled with fluid that develop inside or above one (or both) ovaries. A cyst is a general term used to describe a structure filled with fluid. Ovarian cysts are usually asymptomatic, but pain in the abdomen or pelvis is common. Sometimes a follicle does not release an egg during ovulation and continues to fill with fluid inside the ovary. This is called a “follicular cyst”. In other cases, the follicle releases the egg, but the bag closes and swells with fluid or blood instead of dissolving. This is called a “corpus luteum cyst”. These two conditions are types of functional ovarian cysts. Functional ovarian cysts are the most common type of ovarian cysts.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cyst?
Many times ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include the following:
- Pain during intercourse or menstruation
- Abdominal fullness
- Unusual bleeding
- Weight gain
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
- Breast pain
- Aching in the pelvic region, lower back, or thighs
Your risk of developing an ovarian cyst is heightened by:
- Hormonal problems. These include taking the fertility drug clomiphene (Clomid), which is used to cause you to ovulate.
- Pregnancy. Sometimes, the cyst that forms when you ovulate stays on your ovary throughout your pregnancy.
- Endometriosis. 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.
Most ovarian cysts go away on their own without medical treatment. However, a person may need treatment depending on:
- the size and appearance of the cyst
- their symptoms
- whether they have been through menopause
A doctor may recommend operating and removing a cyst that:
- is very large or is growing
- is persistent and remains after medication
- is getting in the way of a woman’s desire to bear children
- seems unusual
- is causing symptoms, such as pain
- may be malignant
Depending on the type of cyst, surgical options include:
- Cystectomy. This procedure involves removing the cyst but not the ovary
- Oophorectomy. This procedure involves removing the ovary along with the cyst but leaving the other ovary intact.
- Total hysterectomy. This procedure involves removing the malignant cysts by removing the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The person may need to have radiation therapy afterward.
Ovarian cysts are relatively common and can form naturally during a person’s menstrual cycle. Most ovarian cysts are harmless, non-cancerous, and usually do not require treatment. Ovarian cysts that form after a person has gone through menopause have a slightly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Anyone who has ovarian cysts and begins to experience severe, persistent or unusual symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. The usual treatment approach for ovarian cysts is watchful waiting. If a cyst causes bothersome symptoms, becomes cancerous, or prevents you from becoming pregnant or carrying a child, a doctor may recommend surgical removal.