Ovarian Cysts: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Ovarian cysts are sacs of fluid that grow on the ovaries. Ovarian cysts are quite common, and most women will experience them at some point in their lives. Most of the time, they do not cause any discomfort or complications. Most of them disappear without any treatment and are only present for a few months. Some women don’t even realize they have cysts. Cysts can become dangerous if they rupture. It is important to have regular gynecological exams to check for cysts and to ensure none have ruptured.

Ovarian Cyst Causes

Cysts are caused by the body’s normal menstrual cycle. The follicle fills with fluid and produces the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which cause the body to release eggs. If these follicles continue to develop after the egg is released, they turn into cysts and continue to grow on the ovaries. They eventually stop growing and go away, or in severe cases, they continue to grow until they rupture.

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

The symptoms of ovarian cysts can vary from person to person. Some women have no symptoms and don’t even realize they have cysts until they are found by a gynecologist during a routine exam. Other people experience severe symptoms that can last for months. Some common symptoms include:

Ovarian Cyst Diagnosis

Most cysts are found during pelvic exams. The doctor will determine the size of the cyst, if it could possibly rupture, and if it is filled with fluid. The doctor or gynecologist might perform other tests, such as:

  • Pregnancy Test: Some people have positive pregnancy tests if they have certain types of cysts.
  • Pelvic Ultrasound: An ultrasound will allow doctors to look inside the abdomen to see if there are any cysts growing on or in the ovaries.
  • Laparoscopy: Doctors might look inside the abdomen by making a small incision in the abdomen. This can help them determine if there are cysts present.
  • CA 125 blood test: This blood test will determine if there is a protein called cancer antigen 125 present in the body. This could mean that the cyst is cancerous.

Ovarian Cyst Treatment

There are many different treatment options for women who have ovarian cysts. The type chosen depends on the size of the cyst, the age and health of the patient, and the severity of the symptoms. Some common treatment options include:

  • Monitoring: The doctor will monitor the cysts to see if they grow or change.
  • Medication: Hormonal contraceptives can help shrink cysts and prevent them from growing on the ovaries.
  • Surgery: Doctors might choose to surgically remove a cyst if it is large, lasts for more than two or three menstrual cycles, has the possibility of rupturing, or is extremely painful.

Ovarian Cyst Prognosis

The prognosis for people who suffer from ovarian cysts is good. Most people who suffer from them will experience more in their lives. Pain and discomfort are to be expected, but in most cases, they are mild. The treatments are usually effective, and removing cysts and hormonal contraceptives can help reduce the chances of more cysts forming.

Additional Resources:

1. ACOG: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists