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Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled pockets (cysts) within or on the surface of the ovaries. Ovarian cysts are common, especially during reproductive ages. They are usually non-cancerous, diagnosed with the examination and ultrasound and some of them disappear without any treatment while others need surgical treatment.

Most women will experience a cyst on their ovaries at least once in their lifetime. They generally cause no pain or symptoms and are discovered during a pelvic ultrasound exam. As the cyst grows, women may experience pain, nausea, bloating, painful bowel movements or pain during sex. They are usually non-cancerous, but can sometimes cause serious problems, so it’s best to have them check by a doctor and get treated.

  • Follicle cyst – If the follicle doesn’t break open, the fluid inside the follicle can form a cyst in the ovary.
  • Dermoid cysts – sac like growths on the ovaries that can contain hair, fat, pus and other tissue
  • Cystadenomas – non-cancerous growths that can develop on the outer surface of the ovaries
  • Endometriomas (chocolate cyst) – tissues that normally grow inside the uterus can develop outside the uterus and attach to the ovaries, resulting in a cyst with typical chocolate colour fluid.

If observed the cyst and it is small and simple, there will be no further management, meaning that only the sack will build up fluid and it is less than five centimetres. Would consider it to be a physiological or follicular cyst that develops as part of the normal function of the ovaries.

This is usually between five and seven centimetres and usually need recheck with a pelvic ultrasound in about one to three months time.

A large cyst, would recommend surgery. The surgical treatment would also be recommended for smaller cysts which are not simple. For example, endometriomas, or dermoid cysts will be treated surgically.

Surgery may be recommended if patient have a large cyst, cysts in both ovaries, or other characteristics that may suggest ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer can occur in women of all ages, but the incidence increases after menopause.

Surgery is used to confirm the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst, remove a cyst that is causing symptoms, and rule out ovarian cancer.

Surgery for an ovarian cyst or growth may be advised in the following situations:

  • Ovarian growths (masses) are present in both ovaries.
  • An ovarian cyst is larger than 7 cm
  • An ovarian cyst that is being watched does not get smaller or go away in 3 months
  • An ultrasound exam suggests that a cyst is not a simple functional cyst.
  • Having an ovarian growth and :
    • Have never had a menstrual period (for example, a young girl).
    • Have been through menopause
    • Use birth control pills (unless using low-dose progestin-only pills or have missed a pill, which would make an ovulation-related functional cyst more likely).
  • Your doctor is concerned that ovarian cancer may be present. In this case, it is also advised that need to see a gynecologic oncologist.

Symptoms are likely to be cyclical as it is a chronic condition. Beyond the physical, it can also interfere with psychological wellbeing.