Ovarian cysts are enlargements of the ovary that appear to be filled with fluid. They can be a simple fluid filled bleb or contain complex internal structures. The term cyst is used to differentiate them from solid enlargements, according to William M. Rich, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of California, San Francisco.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary. They are very common and do not usually cause any symptoms. Most ovarian cysts occur as part of the normal workings of the ovaries. These cysts are generally harmless and disappear without treatment in a few months.
The woman reproductive parts consist of ovaries. The ovaries are two small, bean-shaped organs that are part of the female reproductive system. A woman has two ovaries – one each side of the womb (uterus). The ovaries help to release an egg approximately every 28 days as part of the menstrual cycle to release the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, which play an important role in female reproduction
Ovarian cysts may affect both ovaries at the same time, or they may only affect one.
Signs and symptoms
pelvic pain – this can range from a dull, heavy sensation to a sudden, severe and sharp pain pain during sex difficulty emptying your bowels a frequent need to urinate heavy periods , irregular periods or lighter periods than normal bloating and a swollen tummy feeling very full after only eating a little difficulty getting pregnant.
TYPES OF OVARIAN CYST
functional ovarian cysts – cysts that develop as part of the menstrual cycle and are usually harmless and short- lived; these are the most common type of ovarian cyst
pathological ovarian cysts – cysts that occur due to abnormal cell growth; these are much less common
Ovarian cysts can sometimes also be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis .
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are non-cancerous (benign), although a small number are cancerous (malignant). Cancerous cysts are more common in women who have been through the menopause.
Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts
A sonogram or ultrasound test can determine if a cyst is simple or complex.
Whether an ovarian cyst needs to be treated will depend on: its size and appearance, or whether you have been through the menopause.
In most cases, the cyst often disappears after a few months.
Due to the slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer in post-menopausal women, regular ultrasound scans and blood tests are usually recommended over the course of a year to monitor the cyst. Large cysts, those causing symptoms, and those that could be cancerous, may need to be surgically removed.
Do ovarian cysts affect fertility?
It has not been proven that ovarian cysts prevent one from getting pregnant, it can however make it harder to conceive.
If you need an operation to remove your cysts, your surgeon will aim to preserve your fertility whenever possible. This may mean removing just the cyst and leaving the ovaries intact, or only removing one ovary.
In some cases, surgery to remove both your ovaries may be necessary, in which case you will no longer produce any eggs. Make sure you talk to your surgeon about the potential effects on your fertility before your operation.
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