These cysts (ovarian cysts) are fluid – filled sacks or pockets which are located in an ovary or on its surface. We know that women have 2 ovaries on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. Eggs (ova) which are developing and maturing in the ovaries are released in the monthly cycles during the childbearing years. There are many women who have ovarian cysts at some time. The most ovarian cysts which are present have little or no discomfort and they are harmless. In the most cases ovarian cysts disappear without a treatment in a period of few months. But those ovarian cysts which have ruptured can cause serious symptoms in women. You should get regular pelvic exams and to know the symptoms which can cause a potentially serious problem and in this way you will protect your health.
Symptoms of ovarian cysts
In the most cases ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms and they go away on their own. But if someone has a large ovarian cyst, then it can cause:
- Fullness or heaviness in your abdomen
- Pelvic pain – a dull or sharp ache in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst
Causes: In the most cases ovarian cysts develop as a result of the menstrual cycle (functional cysts). Also there are other types of cysts which are less common.
- Functional cysts: The ovaries are normally growing cyst – like structure which are called follicles each month. Follicles are producing two hormones known as progesterone and estrogen and release an egg when you ovulate. If the normal monthly follicle keeps growing, then it is known as a functional cyst. There are 2 types of functional cysts:
- Follicular cyst: Around the midpoint of the woman menstrual cycle, an egg bursts over its follicle and it travels down the fallopian tube. The follicular cyst begins when the follicle does not rupture its eggs but it continues to grow.
- Corpus luteum cyst: When the follicle releases its egg, then it begins producing progesterone and estrogen for conception. Now, this follicle is known as corpus luteum. There are some cases when the fluid accumulates inside the follicle which is causing the corpus luteum to grow into a cyst.
Causes of ovarian cysts
There are some studies in which is shown that functional cysts are usually harmless. They rarely cause pain and they often disappear on their own within 2 or 3 menstrual cycles.
- Other cysts: Also there are types of cysts which are not related to the normal function of the menstrual cycle and they include:
- Endometriomas: This type of cyst develops as a result of condition in which the uterine endometrial cells grow outside the uterus (endometriosis). Some of these tissues can attach to the ovary and to form a growth.
- Dermoid cysts: These types of cysts are also called teratomas. They can contain tissue such as teeth, skin or hair because they form from embryonic cells. There are rare cases when they are cancerous.
- Cystadenomas: These types of cysts develop on the surface of an ovary and they can be filled with a watery or mucous material.
Cystadenomas and dermoid cysts can become large which can cause the ovary to move out of position. The mentioned situation can increase the chance of painful twisting of the ovary which is called ovarian torsion. The ovarian torsion can result in stopping or decreasing the blood flow to the ovary.
Risk factors: There are some factors which can increase the risk of developing ovarian cysts such as
- A previous ovarian cyst: If you had an ovarian cyst in the past, then you are having high chances of developing it in the future.
- A severe pelvic infection: If the infection spreads to the ovaries, then this can cause cyst.
- Endometriosis: This condition can cause the uterine endometrial cells to grow outside the uterus. Some of the tissue can attach to the ovary and it can form a growth.
- Pregnancy: There are some cases when the cyst which forms when you ovulate to stay on the ovary throughout the pregnancy.
- Hormonal problems: These problems can include taking the fertility drug (Clomid) which is used to cause woman to ovulate.
Complications: The infrequent complications that are associated with ovarian cyst include:
- Ovarian torsion