A cyst is a sac or pocket that has filled with fluid, solid matter or a mixture of both. A cyst can appear almost anywhere in your body. When a cyst appears on one of your two almond-sized ovaries, it’s called an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts usually form during the ovulation part of your cycle, when ova are released from your ovaries. Most women experience cysts at some point in their lives without knowing it.
Cysts usually present with few or no symptoms, and they don’t usually cause any harm. Cysts disappear on their own, typically within a few months, leading to most doctors taking a “wait and see” approach. However, the symptoms of a ruptured cyst include a sudden, intense pain. If you feel nauseous (and if you vomit), it could be a sign that a cyst is causing a twist in your ovary. Concerning symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan as it may be a symptom or sign of a serious illness or condition.
Because a complex ovarian cyst can rupture if its growth isn’t monitored, you should note the telltale signs that can accompany a cyst:
- A feeling of pressure, bloating, swelling or pain (sharp or dull) in your lower abdomen that comes and goes — it could be a sign that your ovaries hurt
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Pain during sex
- Unexplained weight gain
- Atypical pain during your period
- Vaginal bleeding that is in some way not typical for you
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling the need to urinate more frequently
If you’ve already been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and you experience any of the following symptoms, please seek medical help immediately:
- Pain accompanied by fever and vomiting
- A sudden, severe pain in your abdomen
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
Why Do You Get Cysts?
Hormonal problems often cause cysts to grow, particularly with the use of drugs for encouraging ovulation. Pregnancy can also induce a cyst form. The cyst is then supposed to fall off, but it doesn’t always. Then it must be removed.
Severe pelvic infections can spread to your ovaries and fallopian tubes, with cysts forming as a side effect. Additionally, endometrioma are cysts that develop if you have endometriosis. In this case, the endometrium, or the lining of your uterus, grows over your ovary, causing a cyst to form. These cysts are the ones that can cause pain during your period or while having sex.
Confirming a Cyst
Your doctor may be able to feel a cyst with a pelvic examination. Sometimes, a cyst is too small to feel, but if the symptoms fit, your doctor may perform specific tests to be sure. For example:
- Ultrasounds, which allow your NYC OBGYN to see your internal organs, can also reveal cysts, including how many there are, their size and shape, where they’re located in or on your ovaries, and whether they’re filled with fluid or solid:
- Cysts that are full of clear fluid and smaller than two inches across usually go away on their own.
- Larger cysts, especially if they are more solid, may not go away on their own and may need to be examined more closely.
An ultrasound also tells your doctor if a cyst is septated or not — that is, a cyst that has segments. With a septated ovarian cyst, the doctor pays close attention to the depth of the walls dividing the segments since the thicker the wall, the higher the chance of malignancy.
- Pregnancy tests can to rule out a cyst that has developed due to conception.
- Hormone level tests can tell if any of your hormone levels are off, which may have instigated the formation of a cyst.
- Blood tests are used with both post-menopausal women and younger women, but for different reasons. A post-menopausal woman is less likely to have a cyst and more likely to have ovarian cancer, which can be detected with a blood sample. Conversely, blood test for younger women are intended to catch a variety of other diseases as well.
What Type of Cyst Do You Have?
Ovarian cysts typically form during your menstrual cycle. They’re often referred to as functional cysts for this reason. They’re usually benign. There are several types of benign ovarian cysts:
- Follicular cysts are released eggs that, instead of bursting free, get trapped in the follicle. The follicle then grows into a follicle cyst, which often has no symptoms and goes away on its own.
- Corpus luteum cysts result from follicles that reseal after releasing its egg, forming a sac that fills with fluid. Like follicular cysts, these cysts go away on their own after a few weeks. There is, however, the possibility that these cysts may either bleed or twist the ovary painfully. Sometimes, as these cysts grow, blood vessels rapidly form to feed it. If one of the new thin blood vessels tears, blood pools in the cyst, creating a hemorrhagic cyst.
- Endometrioma cysts are found in women with an endometriosis diagnosis. Endometriosis causes uterine lining tissues to grow outside of the uterus, including in the fallopian tubes and ovaries. When this happens to form a pocket, it can become a cyst.
- Dermoids are cysts that develop from cells that were already present at birth. These cysts typically do not have symptoms or complications.
- Cystadenomas are cysts that filled with watery fluid and can grow to be quite large.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes a cluster of small cysts. While cystic ovaries are benign, PCOS can cause problems when trying to get pregnant. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or have concerning symptoms, you should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a pcos specialist in NYC for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
While most ovarian cysts are benign, malignant cysts can happen and are usually found in older women. Ovarian cysts should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan as it may be a symptom or sign of a serious illness or condition. Additionally, there are ovarian cysts during pregnancy. An ovarian cyst during pregnancy isn’t unusual. They’re mostly benign, and most doctors consider them harmless. If the cyst continues to grow during the pregnancy, your doctor closely monitors it in anticipation of problems during childbirth.
- Since the majority of ovarian cysts are benign, your doctor often takes a “wait and see” attitude. Most cysts go away on their own and don’t require doctor intervention unless you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.
- Birth control pills help control hormone production. These are effective because hormones are the number one reason women get cysts. Additionally, birth control can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Surgery is an option when the cyst is malignant, is getting larger and is still present after three menstrual cycles. Any cyst that causes you discomfort can be surgically removed.
- Some doctors may ask you to try natural treatments, like more exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but low on red meat.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide Gynecology guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult obgyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist or certified Gynecology NYC specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
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