Ovarian Cysts are growths developing within the ovaries. Most Ovarian Cysts are harmless and are not cancerous. Cysts on the ovaries can sometimes grow as big as a watermelon, where a normal ovary is around the size of an almond.
Ovarian Cysts are most common before Menopause, occurring in around 7% of women.
Although Ovarian Cysts are not necessarily harmful or cancerous, they should be taken seriously, because they could indicate other underlying conditions. Identifying and examining Ovarian Cysts is necessary to rule out cancer and any underlying causes, such as Endometriosis.
Ovarian Cysts can come in many different forms, each with a different cause:
- Functional cyst: These cysts form because of normal function of the ovaries. When ovulation does not happen and a follicular cyst remains in the ovaries, and the opening where the egg escapes is closed off with accumulated fluid.
- Pathological cyst: These cysts form because of disease, but are not necessarily cancerous.
- Dermoid cysts: These cysts grow with the existence of developmental tissue that can contain teeth, bone, or hair.
- Hemorrhagic cysts: These cysts form due to bleeding.
- Endometriomas: These cysts are caused by Endometriosis, and are a sign of a severe form of the condition, accompanied with a lot of pain.
- Cancerous cysts: These cysts are rare, but commonly affect post-menopausal people, with vague symptoms that can go undiagnosed.
With Ovarian Cysts, most symptoms are not always noticeable. With Endometriomas however, the main symptom is severe pain, even when the cysts are small in size.
If the cysts are large, regardless of their type, symptoms can include pain and swelling in the abdominal area. Cysts can also lead to constipation or frequent urination due to the cysts pressing on other organs in the abdomen.
Complications of Ovarian Cysts can include twisting of the ovary, bleeding, or bursting of cysts, which can cause severe pain and bleeding, usually requiring emergency attention and treatment.
Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts can be done through assessing medical history and by examination. These tests include:
- Blood tests
- CT scan
Some cysts should be monitored by your doctor, while others don’t need monitoring at all. Functional Cysts may go away on their own, without being treated.
Some cysts require surgery, and this should be determined by your doctor, depending on the size, appearance, test results, and symptoms.