Do You Know Ovarian Cysts Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

 By: Dr Andrew Napier
Ovarian cysts are pockets or sacs filled with fluid on the surface or within the ovary. Mostly these cysts are harmless but in some cases these cysts may cause bleeding, pain or rupturing and may be required to be removed by surgery. The ovaries in a woman are located on each side of the uterus and are the size of a walnut. The ovaries normally store the eggs and then release them at the appropriate time. Each month, one egg is produced in each ovary and is enclosed in a follicle. The egg grows in the ovary till the uterus is ready to release the egg. The uterus prepares for pregnancy by thickening the lining for implantation of the egg. If the egg is not fertilized, this lining is shed through the vagina known as menstrual bleeding. In this process, if the follicle does not release the egg, the fluid can form a cyst in the ovary.

Ovarian cysts look like bubbles and usually affect one of the ovaries. They can be present in women of all ages. Most of these cysts are functional cysts which mean that they are not a part of some disease but are normal. Most of the cysts are non cancerous and go away on their own. Mostly cysts occur during the reproductive phase of a woman's life. There are various kinds of cysts and the most common types are the follicular cyst, Corpus luteum cyst, dermoid cyst, hemorrhagic cyst, polycystic, endometrioid cysts and cystadenoma.

The symptoms of ovarian cysts may be similar to those of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or ovarian cancer. One cannot fully rely only on the symptoms to detect ovarian cyst. Some symptoms can be considered as the following:

1. Irregular menstrual periods.
2. Pelvic pain or pain in the lower abdomen which is severe and sharp.
3. More pressure with bowel movements or urination.
4. Vaginal pain
5. More pressure in the lower abdominal area.
6. Pain in pelvic region after having sexual intercourse or after exercising.
7. Nausea and vomiting.
8. Infertility.

The cause of ovarian cysts may be many. The factors which are responsible in developing ovarian cysts are that the follicles that are supposed to release the egg just keep growing and become functional cysts. The two types of functional cysts are follicular and corpus luteum cyst. During the menstrual cycle, a hormone called LH is released to signals the follicle to release the egg. When this LH hormone does not signal the follicle, the egg is not released and forms into a cyst. Follicular cysts are harmless and go away on their own without causing pain usually. However when LH sends the signals and the egg is released, the follicles produce estrogen and progesterone and the follicle is now known as corpus luteum. In some cases the opening gets sealed and fluid gets accumulated in the follicle causing it to become a cyst. Corpus luteum cyst can grow and bleed.

The treatment for ovarian cysts depends on the type of the cyst and the size too. Other factors taken into considerations are the symptoms and the age of the patient. The treatment may include the following:

1. Oral Contraceptives: These pills reduce the chance of developing cysts in future.

2. Surgery: If the cyst is large in size and is not a functional cyst, it may be needed to be removed by surgery. The cyst may be removed and the other ovary be left intact. This allows the woman to conceive in future. If the cyst is cancerous, the doctor would have to remove the ovaries and the uterus.

3. Wait and watch: In some cases it may be suggested to wait and watch the changes in the cyst by performing pelvic ultrasound at regular intervals.

It is beneficial to get regular pelvic examinations to detect any ovarian cysts or changes.
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