Ovarian Cysts Treatment
There are two ovaries located on either side of the uterus in every woman. These ovaries are responsible for releasing eggs (ova or oocytes) every month during the reproductive years. The ovaries also produce and release important sexual hormones called estrogen & progesterone.
The eggs develop in a sac-like structure (similar to cysts) called a follicle during every menstrual cycle. This sac is filled with fluid and located within the ovaries. Generally, this follicle or sac is broken to release the egg. But if the sac doesn’t release the egg or does not dissolve after releasing the egg, the fluid inside forms like a cyst, and it will grow larger inside or on the surface of the ovary.
The cysts can vary in size – they can be as small as a peanut or as large as a watermelon.
Types of Ovarian Cysts
A variety of ovarian cysts exist, and functional ovarian cysts are the most common type. A functional fault with ovulation can result in these cysts, which are seen in some women of childbearing age (women who are still on their periods). These cysts come in two forms:
Follicular cysts: These form when the egg inside a follicle is not released but continues to grow. They are common in women taking infertility treatments.
Corpus luteum cysts: The follicle is called the corpus luteum after releasing the egg. Sometimes, this corpus luteum accumulates with fluid or blood and develops into a cyst. Often, blood-filled cysts are referred to as haemorrhagic cysts.
In most cases, functional cysts cause no harm and usually go away on their own within a couple of periods (menstrual cycles). However, they are painful in rare cases.
Other types of ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts that are not connected to the regular function of your menstrual cycle include:
Dermoid cysts: Also known as teratomas cysts, they are filled with tissues like hair, skin or teeth. This is because embryonic cells are responsible for their development. It is rare for them to become cancerous.
Cystadenomas: These types of cysts develop from outer ovarian surface cells. They are of several types. For instance, serous cystadenomas cysts are filled with a thin watery fluid, and the other type mucinous cystadenomas are filled with a thick watery or mucous material.
Endometriomas: These grow out of the uterus due to a condition called endometriosis. These are sometimes attached to the ovary and grows larger.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic refers to the presence of many cysts. A PCOS patient can develop multiple benign ovarian cysts. Ovulation issues caused by a hormonal imbalance lead to cyst development. PCOS majorly affects the fertility of women.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are usually asymptomatic. Larger cysts may, however, cause symptoms which include:
- Painful sex
- Menstrual pain
- Bleeding that is unusual
- Tender breasts
- Bowel movements that cause pain
- Inability to empty the bladder
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Thigh pain.
- Unusual weight gain
If the symptoms are severe, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- Sharp pain in the pelvis area
- Feeling dizzy
- Breathing problems
- Abdominal pain
A ruptured ovarian cyst causes the above symptoms. Severe complications may occur if left untreated.
Treatment For Ovarian Cyst
The treatment for ovarian cysts will vary based on many factors from your age and other symptoms. Treatment may involve shrinking the cyst or removing it surgically.
Watchful waiting: In most cases, ovarian cysts subside in a matter of months (2 to 3 monthly cycles). Watching is the best option in case of an asymptomatic condition, though small fluid-filled cysts may be detected in an ultrasound test. Doctors may advise you to wait and have pelvic ultrasounds regularly to monitor the cyst.
Medication: Oral contraceptive medication like birth control pills help you to prevent the formation of new ovarian cysts. But they are not able to shrink existing cysts.
Surgery For Ovarian Cyst: When the cyst is becoming large or causing any other discomfort like preventing you from becoming pregnant, they need to be removed surgically.
Laparoscopy For Ovarian Cyst: Small ovarian cysts can be removed by laparoscopic procedure. In order to remove the cyst, a small tube-like instrument called a laparoscope is inserted through a small incision near your navel.
Laparotomy For Ovarian Cyst: Small ovarian cysts can be removed by laparotomy procedure to remove the cyst. This is an open procedure, where a large incision is made in the abdominal area for removing the cyst.
Sometimes, Ovarian cysts can be malignant (cancerous). In such cases, the surgeon removes the reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes) completely, and this procedure is known as hysterectomy.
Untreated ovarian cysts may reduce your fertility. Endometriosis and PCOS are widespread conditions that make your pregnancy journey troublesome. In such cases, you may need to see a fertility specialist to improve your fertility levels and for further treatment. To know more about treatment or need assistance with existing ovarian cysts, please consult Dr. Monika Reddy, Gynecologist and Fertility Expert at IRA Fertility Clinic in Hyderabad.