A cyst is a general term used to describe a fluid-filled structure. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow inside or on top of the ovaries. The ovaries are a pair of reproductive glands that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size of a walnut.
The majority of ovarian cysts form naturally as a result of menstrual cycles during the reproductive years. The occurrence of ovarian cysts is common and usually forms during ovulation. The best way to proactively monitor growth in your ovaries is to schedule routine pelvic exams with the OB/GYN. If you are in search of gynecologists in Chennai, schedule an appointment with PFRC, one of the best gynecology hospitals in India. Now let’s see more about ovarian cysts.
There are two main types of ovarian cysts:
- Functional ovarian cysts that develop as part of the menstrual cycle and are usually harmless and short-lived; these are the most common type of ovarian cyst
- Pathological ovarian cysts that occur due to abnormal cell growth; these are much less common
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are non-cancerous (benign), although a small number are cancerous (malignant).
Ovarian cysts are usually asymptomatic, but the pain in the abdomen or pelvis is common. Most women may not find out that they have ovarian cysts until they have a pelvic exam. If there are symptoms, they may include
- Pain during intercourse
- Ache in the abdomen/ pelvic region
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breast pain
If the cyst is large in size, some other symptoms may arise as a result of pressure or distortion of adjacent anatomical structures.
Sometimes ovarian cysts become so enlarged that they can cause the ovary to twist out of its natural position, partially or fully inhibiting blood supply to the ovary. This is called ovarian torsion. Symptoms are acute and sudden including severe abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. It is among the most common gynecologic emergencies that require surgical intervention.
Although it’s difficult to predict when or if you’ll develop an ovarian cyst, certain factors put you at higher risk including
- A history of ovarian cysts
- Endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome
- Hormonal problems
- A pelvic infection
Ovarian cysts can sometimes be detected during a pelvic examination, although an imaging test, like a pelvic ultrasound, is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. These imaging tests can also provide information about the cyst's size, location, and other important characteristics. One or more blood tests may be recommended if you are found to have ovarian cysts. The blood tests can help to determine the nature of the cyst. Depending on the results of the imaging test, your age, symptoms, results of blood tests, and family history, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting or surgery.
Watchful waiting: It might seem hard to wait, but unless your cyst doesn’t go away, is large, or is causing problems, waiting is usually the best answer.
The good news about most ovarian cysts is that they typically go away on their own. Whether an ovarian cyst needs to be treated or not will depend on its size and appearance, whether you have any symptoms or have been through the menopause. In most cases, the cyst often disappears after a few months. A follow-up ultrasound scan may be recommended by your gynecologist to confirm this.
Surgery may be recommended by the doctor if
- The cyst is causing persistent pain or pressure or may rupture or twist.
- Cyst appears to be caused by endometriosis and is removed for fertility reasons.
- Large cysts (5 to 10 cm) are more likely to require surgical removal compared to smaller cysts.
- If you have risk factors for ovarian cancer
- The cyst looks potentially cancerous
- If the suspicion for ovarian cancer is low but the cyst does not resolve after several ultrasounds. On further tests, surgical removal might be suggested by the specialist if the need arises.
The type of operation depends on factors such as the type of cyst, your age, and whether cancer is suspected or ruled out.
Ovarian cysts during pregnancy
Ovarian cysts are sometimes discovered during pregnancy. In most cases, they are an incidental finding at the time of routine prenatal ultrasound screening. The majority of ovarian cysts found during pregnancy are benign conditions that do not require surgical intervention.
Watch the video below to know more about ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS from the best fertility specialist in Chennai, Dr. Geetha Haripriya. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with the best gynecologists in Chennai at PFRC right away.