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The Cysterhood: Ovarian Cyst Types, Symptoms & Treatments

December 3, 2020

By catching ovarian cyst symptoms early, you can get the intervention you need, when you need it.

Ovarian cysts are common, affecting most women at least once in their lifetime. While they aren’t cancerous in most cases, they can lead to complications if left unchecked.

What Are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovaries supply your body with fresh eggs, giving you a 5-day monthly window to make a little miracle. They flank the uterus in the lower abdomen and are also responsible for producing oestrogen and progesterone for keeping your fertility mechanism working optimally.

Sometimes, one or both ovaries develop fluid-filled sacs called cysts. While the idea of growths on your ovaries might set off alarm bells in your head, seek comfort in knowing that in most cases, these cysts are harmless and present few or no symptoms. What’s more, they’re so common that most women develop them at least once in their lifetime.

What Are the Types of Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts manifest in a plethora of forms. However, the most commonly appear as functional cysts, which can further be broken down into follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts.

Follicle Cysts

Follicle cysts are produced when an egg fails to rupture from its follicle during a menstrual cycle. When this happens, the fluid trapped inside the follicle gives rise to a cyst on the ovary.

Corpus Luteum Cysts

Follicle cysts usually resolve on their own after releasing an egg. However, in some cases, a cyst may remain unruptured, causing more fluid to build up inside. This can lead to the development of a corpus luteum cyst.

Dermoid Cysts

Dermoid cysts are bulbous ovarian growths composed of hair, fat and tissue.

Cystadenomas

As benign cysts, cystadenomas develop on the outer surface of the ovaries. Although they are noncancerous, they usually warrant treatment to prevent potential complications.

Endometriomas

When uterine tissue begins to grow outside the uterus and cloaks the ovaries, it leads to the formation of cysts known as endometriomas.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Some women develop multiple small ovarian cysts, as the result of a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The condition causes the ovaries to swell and can potentially lead to infertility.

What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts?

In many cases, ovarian cysts serve as silent visitors, refusing to make their presence felt. However, they can become more noticeable as they grow larger.

Here’s a bunch of symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Painful menstruation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Breast soreness or tenderness
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you notice more serious symptoms like fever, dizziness, sharp pelvic pain and rapid breathing, visit your doctor immediately to scope out your symptoms. While these may be harmless, they could also be a sign of a ruptured cyst or ovarian torsion, which can both lead to complications without timely intervention.

What Are the Treatments For Ovarian Cysts?

Most ovarian cysts are harmless and disappear on their own over time. However, if you are diagnosed with a malignant cyst or a cyst with an inherent risk, you may be advised treatment for your condition. Birth control pills are an effective treatment if you have recurrent ovarian cysts, as they prevent ovulation and impede the development of new cysts. Surgical cyst removal methods include laparoscopy and laparotomy.

If you are diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, you should know that it’s not your fault. Ovarian cysts develop organically, and can’t be prevented. Take them in your stride and know that you’re in good company, with most women world over having been in your boat at some point in their lives (often, without their knowledge). With the right medical guidance, you can manage cysts in a healthy way and keep complications at bay for the long haul.

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