Ovarian Cysts: Do I Have One, And What To Do About It? | Revere Health

The ovaries are vital areas in the female reproductive system that help prepare the body for pregnancy. Ovaries prepare eggs for impregnation and then help regulate the process of a period when no pregnancy takes place.

In some cases, however, small cysts meant to dissolve as part of the menstrual process inside the ovary do not do so – these cysts are often unharmful and show no signs, but in other cases they can present major risks.

Identifying Cyst Presence

As we noted above, most ovarian cysts will come without symptoms and won’t require treatment or identification – they’ll resolve naturally. In other cases, they could show symptoms including:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain – either a dull or sharp ache on the side of the body the cyst is on
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Bloating or feelings of fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
  • Significant pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain that’s particularly sudden or severe, or that comes with fever or vomiting – in these cases, seek immediate medical care

If the symptoms above are consistently or severely present, it’s likely your doctor will have you undergo an ultrasound for a positive ovarian cyst diagnosis.

Types of Cysts

There are a few different types of ovarian cysts, classified on the underlying causes that lead to them. To begin with, there are two types of “functional cysts” – cysts that grow from a normal monthly follicle, meant to produce hormones and release an egg during ovulation. These two types are:

  • Follicular cyst: During menstruation, an egg is released from the follicle, where it travels down the fallopian tube. But in some cases, this follicle does not rupture or release the egg, instead continuing its growth into a follicular cyst.
  • Corpus luteum cyst: Also called a hemorrhagic corpus luteum, this is a cyst that forms when the follicle has already released the egg and hormone production has begun. Fluid can still build up inside the follicle and create a cyst.

Both these functional cysts generally resolve with time, though they can cause issues if they become large enough or rupture. There are a few other types of cysts that may be present as well, which are unrelated to the standard menstrual cycle:

  • Dermoid cysts: Also known simply as dermoids or teratomas, these are cysts that fill with debris like hair, skin or teeth after forming as embryonic cells instead of eggs. These will need to be surgically removed, but they rarely lead to cancer or other complications.
  • Cystadenomas: Cysts filled with a watery or mucous material, generally growing on the surface of an ovary.
  • Endometriomas: As a result of endometriosis, a condition where uterine endometrial cells grow outside the uterus, attaching to the ovary to form a cyst.

Ovary Damage and Cyst Complications

As we’ve noted, most ovarian cysts go without symptoms or complications – and even those that do have noticeable symptoms will generally resolve with nothing more than some basic pain or discomfort. However, there are a few possible complications, involving ovary damage that can arise:

  • Ovarian torsion: When a cyst becomes so large that it causes the ovary itself to move and become twisted on its own stem. The stem acts as the blood supply for the ovary, so this can cause the ovary to begin to die in some cases. Ovarian torsion symptoms include sudden and intense pelvic pain, nausea and vomiting. Ovarian torsion will be treated using a surgical procedure to untwist the ovary and remove the cyst that caused the issue. Severe ovarian torsion cases that are left for too long can cause permanent damage.
  • Rupture: Cysts that grow too large and rupture can lead to major pain and internal bleeding. Cyst size plays a role in risk here, along with any high-impact activity that puts pressure on the pelvis, such as sexual intercourse.

Your doctor can offer further recommendations on identifying and treating ovarian cysts.

Obstetricians/gynecologists at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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