Ovarian cysts are common in women who have regular periods. Usually, they are not dangerous, however they can cause pain and worry. Eve Health’s Dr Albert Jung explains what you need to know about ovarian cysts.
Firstly, what are ovarian cysts?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac in the ovary. Ovarian cysts form in every woman’s ovary during ovulation. These functional cysts can be divided into:
- Follicular cysts: During a woman’s normal menstrual cycle, the ovaries release an egg which has grown in a tiny follicle or sac. Follicular cysts happen when the sac does not break open and release the egg. It keeps growing and forms a cyst. Follicular cysts usually go away in 1-3 months. They may not have any symptoms.
- Corpus luteum cysts: These cysts form when the corpus luteum does not shrink once it releases an egg. These cysts generally resolve over several weeks. Corpus luteum cysts are normal in early stages of pregnancy and provide the necessary hormones for a developing embryo.
Other types include:
- Endometriomas: also known as chocolate cysts, caused by endometriosis
- Dermoid cysts: made up of ovarian germ cells. Can contain teeth, hair or fat. Most are benign however can be cancerous.
- Cystadenomas: filled with watery fluid.
Cancerous ovarian cysts are uncommon and they are known as ovarian cancer.
When should I see my doctor?
If you think you have an ovarian cyst and have symptoms such as abdominal bloating, frequent urination, pelvic pressure or pain, unusual vaginal bleeding or pain during sexual intercourse, you should see your doctor. They may suggest doing a pelvic examination, a blood test or ultrasound.
Both normal and abnormal ovarian cysts can produce symptoms, usually in relation to complications with the cyst including:
- Rupture – cysts that burst and spill their contents into the abdomen can cause pain.
- Torsion – cysts may twist occluding the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the ovary and cause pain.
- Haemorrhage – if the cyst bleeds it can cause pain.
- Size – large cysts can compress abdominal or pelvic organs, putting pressure on the bladder, causing the urge to urinate more frequently.
What are the treatments for ovarian cysts?
If your tests indicate your cyst is non-cancerous it may be appropriate to monitor your cyst without treatment. If the cyst becomes troublesome, or if there are concerns of malignancy, your doctor may suggest a laparoscopy. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of the procedure.
If you would like to know if you have ovarian cysts, please speak to our friendly reception team at Eve Health on 07 3332 1999 to make an appointment.
Dr Albert Jung is a compassionate, competent and caring gynaecologist. His area of speciality is in advanced laparoscopic gynaecological surgery having completed the AGES Laparoscopic Fellowship.
Albert’s interests lie in treatment and management of endometriosis, abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and infertility. He has completed his Masters in Reproductive Medicine through UNSW. He manages complex pelvic pain with medical and surgical techniques including pelvic floor botox and in conjunction with a multi-disciplinary team.
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