A sac or pocket filled with fluid in the ovary or on its surface is called an ovarian cyst. Women have two ovaries—each about the size and shape of an almond—on each side of the uterus. The egg grows in the ovary and matures in a month-to-month cycle during the fertile period.
Many women end up with ovarian cysts. Most cysts are almost harmless. Most cysts go away without treatment within a few months.
But, ovarian cysts—especially those that have ruptured—can cause serious symptoms. To ensure your health, get standard pelvic exams and know the symptoms that could indicate a potentially major problem.
What are the symptoms?
Most cysts do not show any symptoms. However, a large ovarian cyst can cause:
Pelvic pain – a dull or sharp sting in the lower abdomen near the cyst
Heaviness in your stomach
When to see a specialist?
You should seek medical attention if you have:
Unexpected, serious stomach or pelvic pain
Vomiting or fever with abdominal/pelvic pain
In case of these symptoms or signs of shock – cold and sticky skin. rapid and continuous breathing; and lightheadedness or weakness – see a specialist immediately.
Who are the causes?
The most known causes of ovarian cysts are:
Hormonal issues – Functional cysts usually go away on their own without treatment. These problems may be caused by hormonal problems or medications used for ovulation.
Women with endometriosis can develop a type of ovarian cyst called endometrioma. Endometriosis tissue may be attached to ovarian growths and structures. These cysts can be annoying during sex and during your period.
Ovarian cysts usually develop early in pregnancy to support the pregnancy until the placenta is formed. However, sometimes the growth remains on the ovary until late in pregnancy and may be removed.
Severe pelvic/vaginal infection. Infections can spread to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and cause cyst formation.
Who is diagnosed?
Ovarian cysts can be identified by specialist doctors during a pelvic examination. Ultrasound is recommended to confirm the findings. An ultrasound scan is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of your internal organs. Ultrasound tests help decide the size, location, shape, and pattern (solid or fluid-filled) of the cyst.
Because most simple cysts go away after a few weeks or months, your doctor may not recommend a treatment plan right away. Rather, they may repeat the ultrasound test in a few weeks or months to check your condition.
If there is no change in your condition or if the cyst enlarges, your doctor will recommend additional tests to rule out different causes of your symptoms. These tests include:
Pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant
Hormone level testing to check for hormone-related issues such as excess estrogen or progesterone
CA-125 blood test for ovarian cancer screening.
Abdominal CECT / PET CT scan
Who is the cure?
If the cyst does not disappear on its own or if it gets bigger, the following treatments can be prescribed for you
Birth control pills
If you have recurrent ovarian cysts, your doctor may recommend oral contraceptives to prevent ovulation and prevent new cysts from developing. Oral contraceptives can also reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. The risk of ovarian cancer is higher in postmenopausal women.
If the cyst is small and the result of the imaging test is to prevent cancer, the doctor can accurately remove the cyst by laparoscopy. This procedure involves your doctor inserting a small device into your abdomen to remove the cyst.
If you have a large cyst, your doctor can remove it right through a large incision in your abdomen. They will do a quick biopsy (frozen section) and if they find a cancerous cyst, they may do surgery to remove your ovaries and uterus.
Ovarian cysts cannot be prevented. However, routine gynecological tests can detect ovarian cysts early. Benign ovarian cysts do not have the potential to become cancerous. However, symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic those of ovarian cysts. Therefore, it is important to visit your doctor and get the correct diagnosis. Tell your doctor if you notice symptoms such as changes in your menstrual cycle, increased pelvic pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and stomach bloating.