WHAT IS AN OVARIAN CYST?
Ovarian Cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on the ovary of a woman.
It is very common in women of reproductive age and many women do not even know they have it.
The Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, bloating, pain during sex and pain passing poo.
The Ovaries and how it works?
The ovary is an important part of the female reproductive system. The ovaries are two small organs that is shaped like a bean and located in the right and left side of the uterus.
Every woman is blessed with two ovaries called the right ovary and the left ovary.
The Ovary works to
- Produce an egg(ova) around the middle of your menstrual cycle.
- helps to release the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone to control the menstrual cycle.
SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CYST?
An ovary cyst usually do not cause any symptoms if it is small (less than 3 centimeters). It only cause symptoms if it grows bigger, ruptures or blocks the blood flow to the ovaries.
If any of these happens then signs and symptoms may include:
- A dull, severe or sharp Pelvic Pain.
- Abdominal bloating or stomach swelling
- Pain during bowel movements
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Heavy Periods, Irregular Periods and lighter period than usual
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Breast Tenderness
Severe symptoms of ovarian cyst that need an emergency attention are:
- Dizziness and feeling like fainting
- Severe Pelvic Pain
- Fast breathing or out of breathe
If you experience any of the severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. This may indicate a more serious problem such as ruptured(split) ovarian cyst or Ovarian torsion.
Types of ovarian cysts
There are two main groups or types of ovarian cysts namely:
1. Functional Ovarian Cysts: Functional means the cyst goes away on its own and they are part of a woman's menstrual cycle. It also lives for a very short time.
2. Pathological Ovarian Cyst: These are more serious cysts. They are caused by abnormal growth of cells on the ovary. And they need to be treated before they can go away.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF OVARIAN CYST?
Since there are 2 main types of cysts that can develop on the ovaries, their causes is also divided in two major groups:
Causes of Functional Ovarian Cyst
1). Follicular Cyst
Follicular cyst is a type of functional cyst that is part of a woman's menstrual cycle. And it is the most common type.
Every month the ovary releases an egg. The egg moves into the fallopian tube where it can be fertilised by a sperm.
The egg forms in the ovary in a sac called the follicle. The follicle contains fluid to protect the egg as it matures.
When the matured egg is released at ovulation, the follicle bursts.
But in some cases, the follicle does not get rid of its fluid or shrinks when the egg is released. It may also not release an egg.
If all these happens, the follicle swells with the fluid and becomes a follicular cyst.
This type of cyst is non-cancerous(benign). Although it may cause some pelvic pain. It develops one at a time and normally goes away within a few weeks(no treatment needed.
2). Luteal Cyst
This are not as common as the follicular. After the egg is released it leaves some tissues behind known as corpus luteum. Luteal ovarian cysts is formed when the left over tissues fills up with blood.
This Luteal cyst goes away within a few months. But if the cyst filled with blood ruptures(splits open) it can cause bleeding internally and sudden pains.
Causes of Pathological Ovarian Cyst
Pathological cyst are caused by abnormal cell growth around the ovaries or cells used to create the egg.
1). Dermoid Cyst
This is the most common type of pathological cysts. They form from cells used to create eggs. It is a benign tumour in the ovary, that contains diversity of tissues such as hair, skin, teeth, bone and so much more.
Ovarian dermoid cyst occurs mostly in a woman's child bearing years.
This type of cyst can cause the ovary to twist(torsion) and blocking the blood supply to the ovaries.
If the Dermoid Cyst continues to grow larger it ruptures(splits). Dermoid Cyst need to be taken out surgically.
2). Cystadenomas Cyst
These are cyst that are formed from cells that cover the outer part of the ovary. They are non-cancerous growths that develop on the outer part of the ovary.
3). Endometriomas Cyst
These are also known as chocolate cyst. The disease can also be called endometriosis of the ovaries.
Ovarian endometriomas cyst is formed when the tissues or the lining of the uterus starts to grow on other organs outside the uterus.
This abnormal tissue can sometimes attach themselves to the ovaries causing endometriosis cyst.
It is also called chocolate cyst because they are filled with thick-chocolate like materials.
Severe pelvic pain may occur if this type of cysts ruptures.
Conditions that increases chances of developing Ovarian Cyst
Endometriosis also known as Endo occurs when the tissues that act as the lining of the womb (endometrial cells)are found outside the womb(uterus) on other organs such as the fallopian tube, ovaries, bladder, bowel, rectum or even in the vagina.
Endometrial cells are what women shed as their mensuration each month.
These tissues or cells attaches themselves to other organs outside the womb and forms a cyst filled with blood that looks like chocolate.
2). Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition caused by hormonal imbalance by which small and harmless cyst develops on the ovary.
This can in turn cause the ovaries to enlarge leading to infertility.
Hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone hormone is the major cause of PCOS. This imbalance causes eggs not to mature to ovulation thereby forming a small cysts on the ovary.
how do they test for ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cyst is mostly first diagnosed through routine pelvic examination. Because most women who have cyst don't know they do because they have no symptoms.
The Doctor may also look at your previous medical history. Women who have endometriosis or PCOS are at a higher risk of developing cyst in their ovaries.
To properly diagnosis the type of cyst you have, the gynaecologist would perform the following:
- The size, shape and appearance of the cyst
- What signs and symptoms you have
- Have you had menopause
- Is the cyst filled with solid, fluid or both?
The following diagnosis test may be performed:
An ultra scan can enable the gynaecologist to determine if a cyst exists on the ovaries. A scanner probe that resembles a wand is placed on the abdomen on top of either the left ovary or the right ovary.
The scanner probe can also be inserted inside the vagina.
In whatever method the doctor chooses, the ovaries are been watched on a video to see if there is a cyst on them and what size, shape and composition of the cyst.
A blood test is conducted to find out if the blood levels of CA125( a type of protein) is elevated. When a tumor is present, the blood level of CA125 is usually elevated. Ovarian cancer is also another reason for high CA125.
A pregnancy test is carried out to make sure the patient is not pregnant and to determine if corpus luteum cyst exist.
Most of the time, watchful waiting also known as observation is adopted.
You won't receive any treatments immediately but you may be asked to come back a few months or few weeks for an ultrasound to see if the cysts has gone.
2). birth control pills
Birth control pills are prescribed to help reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer and also to prevent new cysts from developing in the future.
The doctor may recommend the cyst to be removed surgically if:
- You have symptoms
- The cyst does not go away after 2 or 3 menstrual cycles
- The cyst is large
However, in some cases the cyst may still be surgically removed even though you have no symptoms. If the doctor detects the cyst has a potential of becoming cancerous in the future.
There exists two types of surgery that may be used to remove a cyst on the ovary:
The patient needs to be under general anaesthetics for the surgery to take place.
HOW can I prevent an Ovarian Cyst?
They can be best prevented if you attend a regular pelvic examination, where the cysts can be captured early before they grow bigger or become complicated.