Fluid filled sacs inside or on the ovaries are known as ovarian cysts. Women have a pair ovaries located on both sides of the uterus. Ovaries, which have the size and shape of almonds, produce eggs and are released during the menstrual cycle. Women are likely to have some ovarian cysts during their life. Majority of them does not cause any harm and disappear within a few months without any treatment. But ruptured cysts usually produce serious symptoms.
The common symptoms of ovarian cyst may include:
A dull ache will be experience in your pelvic regions which extends to your thighs and lower back.
Pelvic pain experienced during intercourse and bowel movements.
Fullness of the abdomen
Nausea and vomiting
Temptation to urinate frequently which is caused by the pressure exerted by large cysts on the urinary bladder
Cysts arising as a result of normal menstruation cycles are known as functional cysts. Functional cysts are generally harmless, does not cause any pain and disappear naturally within two three menstrual cycles. Two types of commonly found functional cysts are explained below.
Follicular cysts: During the middle of your menstrual cycle follicle bursts and egg travels out and reaches fallopian tube and waits for sperm to fertilize it. In some cases the rupture of follicle and release of egg does not take place, but the egg grows and forms a cyst.
Corpus luteum cysts: When eggs are released from follicles, ruptured follicles start producing large quantities of progesterone and estrogen for conception purpose which is called as corpus luteum. In some cases the opening of the follicle through which the egg passes out get sealed resulting in the accumulation of corpus luteum which forms a cyst.
Other types of cysts which are formed not as a result of the normal menstrual cycles are described below.
Dermoid cysts. These cysts contain tissues like hair, teeth or skin which are formed from the cells that produce eggs. These types of cysts are not cancerous.
Cystadenomas: These cysts are formed from ovarian tissue. They are filled with mucous material or watery liquid. Though they are generally harmless, if left untreated they may grow in size and surgical procedure will be necessitated to remove them.
Endometriomas: Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial tissues outside uterus. When such tissues are attached to the ovary and start growing it in known as endometriomas.
Cystadenomas and dermoid cysts may grow in size causing the ovary to move from its usual position resulting in twisting of ovary which will be painful.
Surgeons can identify the existence of an ovarian cyst during a pelvic examination. After preliminary diagnosis he may require you to undergo a pregnancy test and ultra sound scan for determining the exact location and the contents of the cyst. Some surgeons may conduct a laparoscopic test through which he will be able to get a clear view of the cyst and at times they are removed also during the procedure.
Wait and watch: Initially doctors may ask the patients to wait for two or three months during which period the cyst may disappear on its own.
Birth control pills: Surgeons may prescribe you birth control pills to avoid formation of further cysts in future menstrual cycles.
Surgical procedure: Cysts which are big in size and are not vanishing on its own may require surgical procedure for removing them. The surgical procedure known as ovarian cystectomy is a commonly practiced procedure for this purpose. Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure in which only the affected ovary is removed leaving the healthy ovary to carry out its normal functions. Total hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the uterus when cancer has spread to all these organs.
Surgeon usually performs laparoscopic procedure which is carried out by inserting a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen and viewing the ovary through the camera attached to the instrument. Another type of surgical procedure named laparotomy in which a larger abdominal incision is needed for carrying out the surgery is also practiced by surgeon who attempts to remove ovarian tumors. Both these procedures can be used for confirming the diagnosis and for the removal of the ovarian tumor/cancer. If infliction of cancer is suspected laparotomy is the most suitable procedure as it preferred as it gives better view of abdominal structures.