Ovarian Cyst: Symptoms, Treatment & Causes

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Fertility

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

Ovarian Cyst

Ovarian Cyst

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms on or within an ovary. Picture a tiny, transparent bubble resting on a delicate flower petal. These cysts can vary in size, ranging from as small as a pea to as large as a grapefruit. They often form during a woman’s menstrual cycle and may contain either fluid or a combination of fluid and solid material.

 

What are the Types of Ovarian Cysts?

Just like there are various types of flowers in a beautiful garden, ovarian cysts also come in different varieties. Here are the primary types you should be familiar with:

  1. Functional Cysts: Think of functional cysts as the “frequent flyers” of the ovarian cyst world. They’re the most common type and usually form during the normal menstrual cycle. The two main subtypes are:
  • Follicular Cysts: These cysts occur when a follicle (the sac that holds an egg) doesn’t release the egg during ovulation. Instead, it continues to grow, transforming into a follicular cyst. The good news is, these cysts often resolve on their own within a few menstrual cycles.
  • Corpus Luteum Cysts: After the follicle releases the egg, it transforms into the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine structure that produces hormones to support a potential pregnancy. Sometimes, the corpus luteum can fill with fluid, leading to the formation of a corpus luteum cyst.

 

  1. Pathological Cysts: Unlike functional cysts, pathological cysts are less common and may require closer attention. They include:
  • Endometriomas: Endometriomas, also known as “chocolate cysts,” develop when endometrial tissue (the tissue lining the uterus) grows abnormally on the ovaries. They can cause discomfort and may affect fertility.
  • Cystadenomas: Cystadenomas are cysts that form from the outer layer of the ovary. They can grow significantly and may require medical intervention.
  • Dermoid Cysts: Dermoid cysts are fascinating and mysterious, containing various types of tissue, like hair, skin, and even teeth. These curious formations are usually benign but might warrant removal if they cause discomfort.

 

  1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is not a single cyst but a complex hormonal condition involving multiple small cysts on the ovaries. It can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalances, and potential fertility challenges.

 

How Common are Ovarian Cysts?

If you’re thinking that ovarian cysts are rare occurrences, think again! These tiny sacs are quite common among women of reproductive age. In fact, many women may have ovarian cysts at some point in their lives without even knowing it.

The majority of ovarian cysts are harmless, come and go on their own, and often go unnoticed. Women may experience symptoms like mild abdominal discomfort, bloating, or changes in menstrual patterns, but these usually resolve with time.

 

Who Gets Affected by Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts don’t discriminate, and they can affect women of all ages, races, and backgrounds. However, some factors may increase the risk of developing cysts:

  • Age: Women in their fertile years, especially between the late teens and early 50s, are more prone to ovarian cysts.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Fluctuations in hormone levels, like those seen during the menstrual cycle or in conditions like PCOS, can contribute to cyst formation.
  • Endometriosis: Women with endometriosis are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts, particularly endometriomas.
  • Pregnancy: Ovarian cysts can sometimes form during pregnancy, usually resolving on their own without affecting the baby.
  • Family History: If your mother or sister had a history of ovarian cysts, you might be more likely to experience them too.

 Read to Know: What is Cyst Meaning in Hindi

Signs and Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst:

Ovarian cysts are like silent spectators, lurking within the ovaries without announcing their presence. But sometimes, they do leave subtle hints, like gentle whispers, to get our attention. Common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Abdominal Discomfort: Have you ever experienced a slight tugging or dull ache in your lower abdomen? It could be an ovarian cyst trying to make its presence known. As the cyst grows, it exerts pressure on the surrounding tissues, causing discomfort.
  2. Bloating: Imagine feeling like a balloon, slowly expanding in your belly. Well, that’s how bloating associated with ovarian cysts might feel. The cyst’s size and position can lead to a sensation of fullness and bloating.
  3. Changes in Menstrual Cycle: Hormones have the power to sway our emotions and influence our menstrual cycles. Ovarian cysts can disrupt this delicate dance of hormones, leading to irregular periods or changes in menstrual flow.
  4. Pelvic Pain: Pelvic pain can be an unsettling experience. Ovarian cysts, especially if they rupture or cause twisting of the ovary (ovarian torsion), may trigger sudden, sharp pains in the pelvic area.
  5. Pain during Intercourse: Intimacy is a beautiful aspect of life, but it can become distressing when it causes discomfort. Ovarian cysts, depending on their location, might lead to pain during sexual intercourse.

 

What Causes an Ovarian Cyst?

Ovarian cysts, like enigmas, can arise from various sources. Understanding these causes can provide clarity on their development. Here are some potential reasons behind the formation of ovarian cysts:

  1. Hormonal Imbalances: Hormones orchestrate an intricate symphony within our bodies. When this delicate balance goes awry, it can lead to the formation of ovarian cysts. Conditions like PCOS are a prime example of hormonal disruption leading to multiple cysts.
  2. Follicle Issues: Imagine a tiny follicle preparing to release an egg during ovulation. Sometimes, this process can get interrupted, causing the follicle to transform into a cyst instead of releasing the egg as intended.
  3. Endometriosis: Endometriosis, a condition where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, can also play a part in the genesis of ovarian cysts, particularly endometriomas.
  4. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, cysts known as corpus luteum cysts might form. While they are usually harmless and disappear on their own, they remind us that our bodies are capable of curious transformations during this miraculous phase.

 

How is an Ovarian Cyst Diagnosed?

Detecting an ovarian cyst requires a keen eye and the proper tools. If you experience any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. The diagnostic process typically involves:

  1. Physical Examination: A skilled healthcare provider will begin with a thorough physical examination, palpating the abdomen for any unusual masses or tenderness.
  2. Imaging Tests: To get a clear picture of what’s happening inside, imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI scans may be performed. These tests help identify the size, location, and nature of the cyst.
  3. Blood Tests: like CA-125, may be ordered to measure certain biomarkers that can help assess the likelihood of malignancy, especially if there are concerns about the cyst’s characteristics.
  4. Laparoscopy: In some cases, a laparoscopy may be recommended. This minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a thin, lighted instrument through a small incision in the abdomen to directly visualize the ovaries and assess the cyst.

 

How to Prevent Ovarian Cysts?

While not all ovarian cysts can be prevented, certain lifestyle choices and practices may help minimize the risk. Here are some proactive steps to consider:

  1. Hormonal Birth Control: For women prone to functional cysts, hormonal birth control can help regulate the menstrual cycle and prevent the formation of certain cysts.
  2. Regular Check-ups: Regular gynecological check-ups are crucial for early detection and management of ovarian cysts. Keep those appointments on your calendar like important dates with friends.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can promote hormonal balance and overall well-being.
  4. Avoiding Smoking: Smoking is harmful to health in numerous ways, and it’s best to steer clear of it to protect yourself from potential cyst-related complications.

 

How is an Ovarian Cyst Treated?

When it comes to treating ovarian cysts, the approach depends on various factors, such as the type of cyst, its size, and whether any symptoms are present. Let’s explore the different treatment options available:

  1. Watchful Waiting: Sometimes, ovarian cysts are small, painless, and pose no immediate threat. In such cases, the healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting. It’s like having a cautious guardian keeping an eye on the cyst’s behavior through regular check-ups and ultrasounds.
  2. Pain Management: For cysts causing discomfort or pain, the focus shifts to managing the symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide relief, making the journey with the cyst a bit more comfortable.
  3. Hormonal Birth Control: Hormonal birth control pills are like skillful conductors that regulate the menstrual cycle. They can also help prevent the formation of functional cysts by inhibiting ovulation. For some women, this can be a helpful treatment option.
  4. Surgical Interventions: In certain cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. The two main procedures are:
  • Ovarian Cystectomy: Imagine a skilled surgeon carefully removing the cyst while preserving the ovary – that’s the essence of an ovarian cystectomy. It’s a delicate and precise procedure aimed at preserving fertility when possible.
  • Oophorectomy: In rare instances where the cyst is large, suspicious, or causes severe complications, removal of the affected ovary (oophorectomy) may be considered. While it can be a daunting decision, it’s often the best course of action for overall health.

 

Ovarian Cyst Treatment with Antibiotics

When discussing ovarian cyst treatment, antibiotics might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, in specific scenarios, antibiotics can play a vital role:

  1. Infection Management: If an ovarian cyst becomes infected, it can lead to a condition called an abscess. In such cases, antibiotics become essential to combat the infection and promote healing.
  2. Post-Surgical Care: After surgical procedures to address ovarian cysts, antibiotics may be prescribed as a preventive measure against post-operative infections.

 

What are the Complications of Ovarian Cysts?

While many ovarian cysts are benign and resolve on their own, some can lead to complications that require attention:

  1. Rupture: Imagine a balloon that pops unexpectedly – that’s what happens when an ovarian cyst ruptures. It can cause sudden, sharp pain and may require medical evaluation.
  2. Ovarian Torsion: Ovarian torsion is like a twisted plot in a movie – the ovary becomes twisted, cutting off its blood supply. This is a medical emergency and needs immediate attention to prevent damage to the ovary.
  3. Infertility: In some cases, ovarian cysts, particularly endometriomas, can impact fertility. Seeking timely treatment and fertility counseling can be essential for women planning to conceive.

 

What are the Symptoms of a Ruptured Ovarian Cyst?

Ruptured ovarian cysts may sound alarming, but they don’t always come with a grand announcement. Often, they can be silent storms brewing within. Here are some key symptoms to be aware of:

  1. Sudden and Severe Pain: Imagine a sudden, sharp pain striking your lower abdomen. This can be a primary symptom of a ruptured ovarian cyst. The pain might be intense and catch you off guard.
  2. Pelvic Discomfort: Even after the initial sharp pain subsides, you might experience lingering pelvic discomfort. It can feel like a constant reminder of the turmoil inside.
  3. Vaginal Bleeding: Unscheduled vaginal bleeding can occur when an ovarian cyst ruptures. It may appear like irregular spotting or heavier bleeding, mimicking a menstrual episode.
  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Some women might experience nausea and vomiting as their bodies respond to the rupture. It’s like an unpredictable twist in the plot of an adventure movie.
  5. Shoulder and Neck Pain: Surprisingly, a ruptured ovarian cyst can cause pain in unexpected places, such as the shoulder and neck. This occurs due to the irritation of the diaphragm by blood or fluid from the ruptured cyst.

 

How Do You Know if an Ovarian Cyst Has Burst?

Detecting a ruptured ovarian cyst might require some detective work. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. Diagnostic methods include:

  1. Physical Examination: A skilled healthcare provider will perform a physical examination, feeling for any tenderness or unusual masses in the abdominal region.
  2. Ultrasound: An ultrasound can provide a clear picture of the ovaries and any potential cysts, helping to confirm the rupture and assess the extent of the damage.
  3. Blood Tests: Blood tests, such as white blood cell count and hemoglobin levels, can indicate inflammation and internal bleeding, providing valuable information about the rupture.

 

Are Ovarian Cysts Dangerous?

Ovarian cysts can be a cause of concern, but they aren’t inherently dangerous. Most cysts are harmless and resolve on their own. However, complications can arise, such as rupturing or causing ovarian torsion, which may require medical attention.

What Size of Ovarian Cyst is Dangerous?

The size of an ovarian cyst can influence its potential danger. While most cysts are harmless, some sizes may raise concerns:

  1. Small Cysts: Cysts that are smaller than two inches in diameter are typically considered low risk. They often resolve on their own without causing significant complications.
  2. Large Cysts: Cysts that are larger than four inches in diameter are considered large. They may have a higher chance of causing complications, especially if they don’t resolve on their own or if they rupture.

 

What Does Ovarian Cyst Pain Feel Like?

Describing ovarian cyst pain can be as intricate as painting a masterpiece. Here’s how some women may experience it:

  1. Dull Ache: A common description of ovarian cyst pain is a dull ache in the lower abdomen. It might feel like a constant companion, never too far away.
  2. Sharp Twinges: At times, the pain can take an unexpected turn, manifesting as sharp twinges or stabbing sensations. It’s like a surprise guest in the midst of daily routines.
  3. Bloating: Ovarian cysts can cause a sense of bloating or fullness in the abdomen, like a balloon expanding within.

 

How Fast Do Ovarian Cysts Grow?

The growth rate of ovarian cysts can vary, and it’s hard to predict how fast a cyst will grow. Some may grow rapidly over a few weeks, while others may remain stable or even shrink.

 

ConclusionOvarian Ovarian

In conclusion, ovarian cysts are a common and often harmless health concern for women. Understanding the different types of cysts can provide insight into their potential impact on one’s health. Remember, if you experience persistent or severe symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate management.

 

F.A.Q

Q: What is the main cause of ovarian cysts?

A: Ovarian cysts are primarily caused by the abnormal growth of follicles in the ovaries during the menstrual cycle.

Q: Is ovarian cyst a serious problem?

A: In most cases, ovarian cysts are not considered serious and often resolve on their own without intervention. However, certain types of cysts or complications can lead to more severe issues.

Q: What are my first symptoms of ovarian cyst?

A: The initial symptoms of an ovarian cyst may include pelvic pain, bloating, discomfort during intercourse, irregular menstrual cycles, and changes in urination patterns.

Q: Are ovarian cysts a worry?

A: While many ovarian cysts are not worrisome, some may cause complications or lead to more serious conditions. It’s essential to monitor their growth and seek medical advice if any concerning symptoms arise.

Q: Is ovarian cyst good or bad?

A: Ovarian cysts are a natural part of the menstrual cycle and can be considered both good and bad. They are generally harmless and can even disappear on their own. However, if they cause symptoms or grow larger, they may need medical attention.

Q: How can I reduce my ovarian cyst?

A: The reduction of ovarian cysts depends on their type and size. In some cases, hormonal birth control can help prevent new cysts from forming, while in others, surgery may be necessary for larger or persistent cysts.

Q: How can cysts be cured naturally?

A: Natural remedies to support ovarian cyst management include lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress, and engaging in regular exercise. However, for significant cysts or concerning symptoms, medical evaluation is essential.

Q: What size of ovarian cyst is normal?

A: The size of a normal ovarian cyst may vary, but in general, small functional cysts less than 2.5 to 3 centimeters in diameter are considered normal and typically resolve without intervention. Larger cysts or those that persist may require medical attention.

Q: Which medicine is best for ovarian cysts?

A: The choice of medicine for ovarian cysts depends on the type and size of the cyst. Hormonal birth control pills are commonly used to regulate hormones and prevent new cysts from forming. However, the best medicine should be determined by a healthcare professional.

Q: What age do ovarian cysts happen?

A: Ovarian cysts can occur at any age during a woman’s reproductive years. They are most common during the menstrual cycle when follicles develop in the ovaries. However, they can also be found in postmenopausal women.

Q: Can ovarian cysts be treated without surgery?

A: Yes, ovarian cysts can often be treated without surgery, especially if they are small and functional. Hormonal birth control or watchful waiting may be used to manage them. However, certain cysts or complications may require surgical intervention.

Q: Can I get pregnant with an ovarian cyst?

A: In many cases, ovarian cysts do not affect fertility and do not hinder pregnancy. However, certain types of cysts or large cysts may interfere with conception. It’s essential to consult with a doctor if you’re planning to conceive and have concerns about ovarian cysts.

Q: Can a cyst stop your period?

A: Yes, certain types of ovarian cysts, known as functional cysts, can impact your menstrual cycle. They may cause irregular periods or, in some cases, even temporarily stop menstruation. However, other factors can also cause changes in your menstrual cycle, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.

Q: Are ovarian cysts lifelong?

A: Ovarian cysts are not always lifelong. Functional cysts, which are the most common type, often resolve on their own within a few menstrual cycles. However, some cysts can persist or recur, and some women may experience multiple cysts throughout their lives.

Q: Are ovarian cysts normal?

A: Yes, ovarian cysts are normal and a natural part of the menstrual cycle for many women. As eggs mature in the ovaries, cysts form, and they usually resolve on their own without causing any problems. However, if cysts cause symptoms or complications, medical attention may be required.

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    Dr Mona Dahiya

    Dr Mona Dahiya

    IVF Specialist & Consultant

    Dr Mona Dahiya has performed over 5,000+ IVF cycles and is considered a global expert in IVF, ICSI, IUI and male fertility treatment. She is an eminent writer on Infertility Treatment and has over 100 Publications in both International and National Journals. Dr Mona Dahiya has immensely contributed to the field of infertility through her Research and articles.

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