All you need to know about ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovary. The cysts are usually harmless. It can form in many places in the body. Ovarian cysts form in or on the ovaries. They are common and usually form during ovulation.
What are the different types of ovarian cysts?
The most common types of ovarian cysts (called functional cysts) form during the menstrual cycle. They are usually benign (not cancerous).
The two most common types of cysts are:
- Follicle cysts: They form during the menstrual cycle when the follicle doesn’t break open to release the egg. This causes the follicle to continue growing into a cyst. Follicle cysts often have no symptoms and go away in one to three months.
- Corpus luteum cysts: Once the follicle breaks open and releases the egg, the empty follicle sac shrinks into a mass of cells. The cysts form if the sac doesn’t shrink but instead reseals itself after the egg is released, and then fluid builds up inside.
Who gets ovarian cysts?
- Ovarian cysts are common in women with regular periods. In fact, most women make at least one follicle or corpus luteum cyst every month. You may not be aware that you have a cyst unless there is a problem that causes the cyst to grow or if multiple cysts form. About 8% of premenopausal women develop large cysts that need treatment.
- Ovarian cysts are less common after menopause. Postmenopausal women with ovarian cysts are at higher risk for ovarian cancer.
- At any age, see your doctor if you think you have a cyst.
What causes ovarian cysts?
The most common causes of ovarian cysts include:
- Hormonal problems. Functional cysts usually go away on their own without treatment. They may be caused by hormonal problems or by drugs used to help you ovulate.
- Endometriosis. Women with endometriosis can develop a type of ovarian cyst called an endometrioma. The endometriosis tissue may attach to the ovary and form a growth. These cysts can be painful during sex and during your period.
- Pregnancy. An ovarian cyst normally develops in early pregnancy to help support the pregnancy until the placenta forms. Sometimes, the cyst stays on the ovary until later in the pregnancy and may need to be removed.
- Severe pelvic infections. Infections can spread to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and cause cysts to form.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts?
Most ovarian cysts are small and don’t cause symptoms.
- If a cyst does cause symptoms,you may have pressure, bloating, swelling, or pain in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst. This pain may be sharp or dull and may come and go.
- In case it ruptures,it can cause sudden, severe pain.
- If a cyst causes twisting of an ovary,you may have pain along with nausea and vomiting.
Less common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Dull ache in the lower back and thighs
- Problems emptying the bladder or bowel completely
- Pain during sex
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pain during your period
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Needing to urinate more often
Can ovarian cysts lead to cancer?
Yes, some ovarian cysts can become cancerous. But most ovarian cysts are not cancerous.
The risk for ovarian cancer increases as you get older. Women who are past menopause with ovarian cysts have a higher risk for ovarian cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk for ovarian cancer.
Can it make it harder to get pregnant?
Typically, no. Most ovarian cysts do not affect your chances of getting pregnant. Sometimes, though, the illness causing the cyst can make it harder to get pregnant.
Do ovarian cysts affect pregnancy?
They are common during pregnancy. Typically, these cysts are benign (not cancerous) and harmless. Ovarian cysts that continue to grow during pregnancy can rupture or twist or cause problems during childbirth. Your doctor will monitor any ovarian cyst found during pregnancy
Can I prevent ovarian cysts?
No, you cannot prevent functional ovarian cysts if you are ovulating. If you get cysts often, your doctor may prescribe hormonal birth control to stop you from ovulating. This will help lower your risk of getting new cysts.