The female reproductive system includes two almond-shaped ovaries which can be found on either side of the uterus. The ovaries are where eggs (ovum) are developed and then released in monthly cycles during childbearing years. Sometimes cysts, fluid-filled sacs or pouches, form in or on an ovary, typically during ovulation. Ovarian cysts are relatively common, and many women develop ovarian cysts at some time during their lives.
The Risk Factors for & Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts: When to See a Doctor
The most common causes of ovarian cysts include:
- Hormonal issues
- Severe pelvic infections
Ovarian cysts are common in women with regular periods, and most cysts never become problematic. About 8% of premenopausal women developing large cysts that need treatment. Ovarian cysts are less common after menopause, however postmenopausal women who do develop ovarian cysts are at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Many women only discover ovarian cysts through a pelvic exam performed by their doctor. The majority of ovarian cysts are small and do not present with symptoms. Some symptoms of ovarian cysts include:
● Pelvic pain
● Dull or sharp ache in the lower back and thighs
● Pain on one side of the lower abdomen that starts suddenly or comes and goes
● Sudden, severe pain in the lower abdomen
● Pain during sex
● Problems emptying the bladder or bowel completely
● Unexplained weight gain
● Unusual vaginal bleeding
● Needing to urinate more frequently
If an ovarian cyst is discovered by your healthcare provider, one of several things may happen. Your provider may wait to see if the cyst recedes on its own. If you are postmenopausal, if you are in pain, or if your cyst remains, your doctor may recommend surgery. If your cyst ruptures or causes bleeding, you should seek immediate medical help. You may be prescribed hormone therapy or hormonal birth control to inhibit the growth of future cysts.
Diagnosis & Treatments for Ovarian Cysts
If your healthcare professional suspects the presence of an ovarian cyst, the following tests may be recommended to obtain more information:
● Ultrasound exam: Using sound waves, an ultrasound device can create a picture of the size, shape, and location of the cyst as well as if the cyst is solid or filled with fluid.
● Blood tests: Blood tests can help measure the level of a substance called CA 125 which can help detect or rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer.
Treatment options for ovarian cysts can then be administered depending on the type of cyst determined by these tests.
How Advanced Gynecology Can Help
Our board-certified team of specialists and surgeons is here for you to diagnose the cause of your ovarian cysts and work to find the best treatment plan for you.