Ovarian cysts are cysts that develop on women’s ovaries, which are part of the reproductive system and are found on both sides of the uterus. Most women will develop at least one ovarian cyst in their lifetime and often these cysts are painless, symptomless, and are only discovered during a routine checkup.
There are two main types of ovarian cysts: follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts. Follicle cysts form when the follicle produced during a woman’s menstrual cycle does not break open to release an egg, thus keeping the fluid inside the follicle and causing a cyst. Corpus luteum cysts occur when the follicle does not dissolve after releasing the egg as it is intended to. Fluid develops inside the follicle and causes a corpus luteum cyst.
Other types of ovarian cysts include dermoid cyst, which contains hair follicles, fat, and other tissues; cystadenoma, which is a non-cancerous growth; and endometrioma, which forms when the tissue that normally grows in the uterus begins to grow on the outside.
The type of cyst a woman has generally suggests its cause, whether it is due to a follicle that does not open or a follicle that does not dissolve, which are the most common causes of cysts.
Ovarian cysts can be symptomless, but if manifested symptoms may include abdominal bloating or swelling, painful bowel movements, pelvic pain prior to or after one’s menstrual cycle, painful intercourse, pain in lower back or thighs, breast tenderness, nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention include severe or sharp pelvic pain, fever, faintness or dizziness, and rapid breathing. These symptoms indicate that the cyst has ruptured, and treatment must be administered quickly in order to avoid complications.
Typical treatment and management of a ruptured ovarian cyst includes painkilling drugs, which can range from oral to intravenous morphine depending on severity. If the patient is bleeding and becomes unstable, treatment will result in surgery, which can either be laparoscopy or laparotomy.
There is no set prevention methods for ovarian cysts, but it is of good practice to get regular pelvic exams in order to catch one prior to becoming symptomatic. Even if you begin to notice changes in your cycle or feel the symptoms associated with ovarian cysts, speak with your doctor about treatment options.
Treatment options for ovarian cysts include watchful waiting and monitoring to ensure it does not rupture or cause complications, taking birth control pills to reduce the risk of future ovarian cysts, and surgery if the cysts are large enough and potentially on the brink of rupturing.
Ovarian cysts have the potential to be quite painful. Following these tips can help reduce the pain associated with ovarian cysts.
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