Cysts are often benign growths of fluid-filled sacs in various locations of the body. Ovarian cysts occur either inside or on the surface of a woman’s ovary. These cysts are common and many women experience them at some point in life, with little or no symptoms. In fact, many women only find out they have ovarian cysts when they are found incidentally during a medical exam for other symptoms. These ovarian cysts usually go away on their own without any kind of intervention or treatments, although it may take several months or longer. Even though most ovarian cysts do not cause severe pain or symptoms, some women do experience more significant side effects.
Should I Be Worried About My Ovarian Cyst?
If you are concerned that you may have an ovarian cyst, pay attention to the following possible symptoms of this condition, especially significant pain.
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Pain in the pelvic area, either constant or one that comes and goes
- More significant pain before and after your period
- Pain in the pelvic area during intercourse, also known as dyspareunia
- Painful bowel movements
- Symptoms similar to early pregnancy (breast tenderness, nausea, feeling of abdominal fullness, and increased urination)
If any of these symptoms become severe or persist, it is important to seek a medical evaluation. Any sudden abdominal pain, with or without vomiting, might be an indication of a serious issue with the cyst and you should seek immediate medical attention.
How Do Cysts Form?
Each month as your ovaries release eggs, follicles are responsible for producing the necessary hormones for ovulation. Sometimes cysts, known as functional cysts, develop when the follicle does not properly release the egg. Other cysts form when the egg is successfully released, but then the follicle does not respond as it needs to and a cyst known as a corpus luteum forms where the follicle once was. Both of these forms of cysts generally do not cause severe symptoms or long-term effects.
Other more rare forms of ovarian cysts exist, including:
- Dermoid (contain various tissues from the egg cells, and the cyst can grow quite large)
- Cystadenomas (are sometimes filled with liquid and form from surrounding ovarian tissues, and they can also become quite large)
- Endometriomas (are the result of an underlying condition of endometriosis)
What Are the Dangers of an Ovarian Cyst?
If you experience severe pain or other symptoms, it might be the sign of a complication due to an ovarian cyst. Some cysts, especially Dermoid and Cystadenomas, can become very large and actually push or pull the ovary slightly out of place, causing pain. If your ovary should twist, known as ovarian torsion, you may need emergency surgery to maintain the blood supply to the ovaries. Rarely, large cysts will rupture and cause significant pain and internal bleeding. This is also cause for immediate medical attention.
Ovarian cysts are common growths that many women experience with minimal symptoms, if any at all. If you experience more severe signs such as extreme abdominal pain, with or without nausea, be sure that you seek medical attention quickly.
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