Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on or within the ovaries. They are common, and many women develop at least one cyst during their lifetime. However, it’s important to understand when a cyst is concerning and when to see a Gynaecologist.
What are ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on or within the ovaries. They can be small or large, and they can occur in one or both ovaries. Ovarian cysts are common and can occur at any age, but they are most common in women of reproductive age.
What causes ovarian cysts?
There are several types of ovarian cysts, and each type has a different cause. The most common type of cyst is the functional cyst, which forms as part of the menstrual cycle. These cysts occur when the follicle that holds the egg does not break open to release the egg, but instead continues to fill with fluid.
Other types of cysts include endometriotic cysts, dermoid cysts, cystadenomas, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) cysts. Endometriotic cysts form when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it, on the ovaries. Dermoid cysts are formed from the cells that produce eggs, and they contain hair, skin, and other tissue. Cystadenomas are cysts that form on the surface of the ovary and are filled with fluid. PCOS cysts form as a result of hormonal imbalances and can lead to the development of multiple small cysts on the ovaries.
What are the common symptoms of ovarian cysts?
Many women with ovarian cysts experience no symptoms. However, if a cyst grows large enough, it can cause pain and discomfort. The following are the most common symptoms of ovarian cysts:
- Pelvic pain: This pain may be felt on one side of the pelvis and may become more intense with physical activity or during a bowel movement.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This can occur if the cyst ruptures or if it causes the ovary to twist.
- Nausea and vomiting: This can occur if the cyst is large enough to cause abdominal pain and discomfort.
- Bloating: This can occur if the cyst is large enough to press on the abdomen and cause discomfort.
- Trouble breathing: This can occur if the cyst is large enough to press on the diaphragm and make it difficult to breathe.
When to see a Gynaecologist
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important to see a Gynaecologist. They will perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam, and may order additional tests, such as an ultrasound, to determine the size and type of the cyst.
If the cyst is small and not causing any symptoms, your Gynaecologist may simply monitor it with regular ultrasounds. If the cyst is causing symptoms, your Gynaecologist may recommend surgery to remove it. In some cases, the cyst may be cancerous, and a biopsy may be necessary to determine the best course of treatment.
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