What is an Ovarian Cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled sac or pouch which forms on the ovary. Ovarian cysts, in most cases are harmless and resolve on their own. Some harmless cysts however can persist and grow very slowly in size. Some complex appearing cysts can be cancerous and should undergo intervention sooner rather than later. Ovarian cysts are common in women of childbearing age.
Symptoms and Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are symptomless most of the times but may cause variable abdominal or pelvic pain or pain during intercourse. If the cyst is large, it may cause twisting of the ovary that leads to pain.
There are many types of ovarian cysts and they have a variety of causes including;
– If you take progestogen contraception, it may increase your risk of getting functional cysts.
– Some hormones that are used to treat infertility can trigger functional cysts to develop in your ovaries.
– If you’re pregnant, ovarian cysts can form as your hormone levels change during your pregnancy.
– You may be at risk of ovarian cysts if you have endometriosis.
– If you have a family history of ovarian cancers, your risk is slightly increased for cancerous cysts
Ovarian cysts can be diagnosed during a routine check up, such as your doctor performing a pelvic examination every time you have a pap smear. Often cysts are diagnosed when having imaging of the pelvis for other reasons (ultrasound, MRI or CT scan). Your doctor may order bloods tests for ‘tumour markers’ that helps them in planning your management. Ovarian cysts can be managed conservatively or surgically with an ovarian cystectomy. Management is best discussed with your gynaecologist.
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