How to diagnose, treat and prevent ovarian cysts

The ovaries are two nut-sized organs, located on both sides of your womb. They regulate your menstrual cycle and fertility, producing hormones and releasing eggs. It’s not uncommon that fluid-filled cysts develop in the ovarian tissue because of hormonal fluctuations or certain structural abnormalities.

Ovarian cyst is a rather common problem among women of childbearing age.In most cases, these sacs are harmless and don’t cause any discomfort. You may not even know that you’ve had it, as functional ovarian cysts often go away within three menstrual cycles.

But occasionally, cyst may have nothing to do with your menstrual cycle. Dermoid cysts, cystadenomas and endometrioid cysts may grow big enough to cause the ovary to change its position that often leads to painful ovarian torsion.

Although many ovarian cysts stay symptomless, women with these formations may complain of heaviness and cramps in the lower abdomen, bloating, frequent urge to urinate and pain during intercourse.

It’s not uncommon that pocket-like formation in the ovary is found accidentally during routine pelvic examination or unrelated ultrasound scan. Rarely, CT scan or MRI may be needed to detect the cyst and determine its size.

Sometimes doctor may need to make small incision and insert thin instrument called laparoscope to see the surface of your ovaries and remove the cyst.

If you have risks for developing ovarian cancer, healthcare specialists may recommend getting your blood tested on CA125, which is a cancer-associated protein. However levels of CA125 may be also elevated in women with endometriosis, myoma and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Depending on the type of ovarian cyst, your age, symptoms and medical history, different treatment plans may be proposed.

Doctors often advise their patients to wait for a few months and re-examine their ovaries, if the cyst is small and doesn’t cause any symptoms. The chances are high that it will disappear by its own without any treatment.

To prevent further cyst development, medical specialist might recommend birth control pills, especially if you’ve had one earlier. But it’s worth knowing that oral contraceptives aren’t able to shrink your existing cyst.

If your ovary contains large cyst, which looks like pathological formation, or if it tends to grow quickly, surgery may be the best option.

While in some cases the cyst can be extracted from the ovary, in other situations the only way to get rid of it is to remove the whole ovary.


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