Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacks on or within the ovaries. Many women, especially of reproductive age, have ovarian cysts at one time or another. Most ovarian cysts are harmless and painless and they require no treatment. Functional non-threatening cysts such as these dissipate on their own in a matter of months.
Though many ovarian cysts cause no pain or symptoms, there are several symptoms to watch out for that can indicate ovarian cysts of a more serious nature. Ruptured ovarian cysts can lead to palpable and sometimes serious symptoms.
There is a range of possible ovarian cyst symptoms and many of them are similar to those symptoms of other conditions such as, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease. One common symptom of ovarian cysts is a dull aching in the abdominal area. Other symptoms include abdominal pain or pressure caused by a ruptured cyst, pain during sexual intercourse, painful or delayed periods, tender breasts, nausea, or pain during bowel movements.
There are a few different types of ovarian cysts. A functional cyst is formed during ovulation as a result of egg production. This is the type of cyst typically goes away on its own. A dermoid cyst is filled with tissues that include skin or hair. An endometrioma cyst forms when tissue similar to the uteral lining attaches to the ovaries. Cystadenoma cysts occur on the cells on the outside of the ovaries. Polycystic ovarian disease can occur when several cysts cause the ovaries to swell and produce a substantial outer covering on the ovaries that can cause infertility issues as it can prevent ovulation altogether.
Women who are on oral contraceptives rarely have functional cysts due to the fact that this method of contraception stops ovulation. For this reason, doctors sometimes prescribe oral contraceptives to shrink functional ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts that do not respond to hormonal treatment may require surgery.
Early detection of ovarian cysts can be key in resolving the issue with less extensive and invasive treatments. Women that have had ovarian cysts before are more likely to develop cysts again. Ovarian cysts coupled with endometriosis can sometimes lead to the necessary removal of the ovaries. Ovarian cysts in post menopausal women are more likely to have malignancies.
Regular pelvic exams will help with the early detection of ovarian cysts. If you experience sudden intense pelvic or abdominal pain especially if it is accompanied by fever and vomiting, please seek immediate medical attention.
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