A Primer on Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts sound much more frightening than they really are. Defined as fluid-filled sacs that form in the ovaries, ovarian cysts are quite common in women. The majority of ovarian cysts are harmless, but some can be painful and need attention. At Women’s Health Medical Group we treat ovarian cysts when necessary, but we also want to give you the information you need about them.
Why do ovarian cysts form?
For many women, ovarian cysts are just a part of their childbearing years because they are related to ovulation. Every month during ovulation the ovaries release an egg. These eggs are grown in tiny sacs called follicles. After these sacs release the egg, the sac dissolves turning into corpus luteum, which produces hormones. If the sac does not dissolve, a “functional” cyst will form. In most cases, these cysts disappear within a few months. These cysts are very common and are rarely cancerous but can cause some discomfort.
While the majority of ovarian cysts form from the follicles not dissolving, other cysts can form as a result of disease or from the egg not being released by the ovaries. Unlike the more common variety, these cysts can be large and quite painful. These symptoms, while not experienced with every cyst, are common:
- Pelvic pain
- Abnormal bleeding
- Pressure, swelling, or abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Weight gain
Other kinds of ovarian cysts
- Endometriosis — In women with endometriosis, tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body, including the ovaries. These cysts can be very painful and can impact a woman’s fertility.
- Polycystic — These cysts form when the follicles fail to open.
- Cystadenomas — Often fluid-filled, these cysts form out of cells on the surface of the ovaries.
- Dermoid — This type of cyst contains tissue similar to that found in other parts of the body, including skin, hair, and teeth.
Diagnosis and treatment
Most ovarian growths are benign, but a small number can be cancerous. That’s why it’s important to have any growths checked. At Women’s Health Medical Group, we use pelvic exams, ultrasounds, and other imaging tools to diagnose ovarian cysts. Hormone levels also can provide clues.
If surgery is required, we use laparoscopy. This utilizes a thin, light-tipped device that is inserted into your abdomen. If the tumor is identified as cancerous, we do not perform the surgery, instead referring the patient to a gynecologic oncologist.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you may have an ovarian cyst. Call us at (817) 346-5336 and let’s see what’s going on.