An average woman has two ovaries on either side of her uterus, each ovary is shaped like an almond and of about the same size as the fruit is. They are little pockets or fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries or around its surface.
Ovarian cysts may cause no discomfort and could disappear without treatment, but there are those that could harm women. When they rupture, they could cause serious health challenges.
Large or ruptured ovarian cysts manifest through the following symptoms:
- Sudden pelvic or abdominal pain on the side of the cysts.
- Fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
- Fever and vomiting
These symptoms are notifications for a medical appointment and examination.
Some Ovarian cysts occur as a result of functional cysts (menstrual cycle), but there are less common cysts too. Functional cysts are follicles, which the ovaries grow on a monthly basis. They produce the estrogen and progesterone hormones and help with the release of eggs during ovulation. If these follicles keep growing, they become functional cysts. There are two types:
Follicular and Corpus Luteum Cysts. The former begins when a follicle fails to rupture and release the egg within it for ovulation but continues to grow. In the latter, the follicle releases the egg thus becoming corpus luteum, but fluid accumulates within the follicle and it becomes a cyst.
Functional Cysts are usually harmless and disappear in two to three months without treatment.
Other types are:
Teratomas (Dermoid Cysts) – They form from embryonic cells and can, therefore, contain tissue like hair, teeth or skin. They are rarely cancerous.
Cystadenomas – Usually filled with watery or mucous material, they develop on the ovary surface, not within.
Endometriomas – When endometriosis (growth of uterine endometrial cells outside the uterus) occurs, some tissues can attach to the ovary and form a growth, these are cysts called endometriomas.
The first two can become very large, thus displacing the ovary. This will cause ovarian torsion – a painful twisting of the ovary. It could decrease or stop blood flow to the ovary.
Persons who have suffered or suffer any of the underlying conditions stand a great risk of developing painful ovarian cysts:
- Hormonal problems
- Consuming ovulation inducing drugs – clomiphene (clomid)
- Severe pelvic infections
- Previous Ovarian cysts
Pelvic examinations are important because, after menopause, cystic ovarian masses could occur and they could be cancerous (malignant). Other complications that may arise from ovarian cysts are:
Rupture: The larger a cyst is, the greater its chances of rupturing. When a cyst ruptures, it causes severe pain and internal bleeding. Rigorous pelvic activity like vaginal intercourse can increase the risk too.
Ovarian Torsion: This was discussed earlier. The symptoms include severe pelvic pain, nausea and vomiting.
While there are no hard and fast rules guiding the prevention of ovarian cysts, frequent pelvic examination could help with early detection and treatment. At Progressive Women’s Health, measures that ensure feminine reproductive safety are taken. Visit us today to benefit from our great services.