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While most cysts do not show any symptoms and disappear altogether there are some types of symptoms that show prominent symptoms like –

  • Pelvic pain

  • Sharp or recurring pain in the lower abdomen towards the ovary with the cyst.

  • Bloating and heaviness in the abdomen.

When to see you’re a doctor?

The patient should seek immediate consultation in case of –

  • Sharp and severe pain in the abdomen or pelvic region.

  • Pain accompanied by fever and vomiting.

Cysts are developed as a part of the menstrual cycle and are also called functional cysts and the others are less common.

Functional cysts

The ovaries grow small follicles every month as the women ovulate producing hormones like estrogen and progesterone and release eggs.

Ovarian Cysts are classified based on -

Follicular cyst

Amid the menstrual cycle the follicle bursts and releases an egg that moves through the fallopian tube. In case, the follicle does not burst, it develops into follicle cyst and grows further.

Corpus luteum cyst

When the follicle bursts and egg leaves, the follicle is empty and sometimes fluid accumulates in the follicle, and this condition is termed as corpus luteum cyst.

These cysts are usually not painful and disappear on their own.

Other cysts

Other cysts that are not related to the menstrual cycle are:

Dermoid cysts

These are unusual cysts formed by embryonic cells and contain tissues, hair, teeth or skin. They are non-malignant.

Cystadenoma

These cysts are formed outside the ovary and usually filled with water or mucous.

Endometriomas

These are the cells formed inside the uterus and sometimes grow outside the uterus (endometriosis) often extending to ovaries to form a cyst.

The critical condition called ovarian torsion happens when cysts like cystadenomas and dermoids grow large and twist the ovary, moving it away from its usual position. This condition might also block the blood supply and thus causing a lot of pain.

Cysts are prominently seen in cases where -

  • Hormonal problems and drug intake

  • Pregnancy - Cyst and pregnancy can together exist as, during ovulation, some eggs ovulate while some might form into cysts.

  • Endometriosis

  • A severe pelvic infection - Pelvic infection can cause cysts.

Cysts could be filled with fluid, solid or are mixed. Cysts usually come across during physical examination of the pelvic region, during other examinations.

However, doctors will recommend one of the following tests to confirm the cyst.

Pregnancy Test

A corpus luteum cyst is confirmed with a positive pregnancy test.

Ultrasound:

A pelvic ultrasound captures images of the uterus and ovaries by using sound waves.  The ultrasound gives an idea of the type of cyst, location and the size.

CA 125 blood test:

The CA 125 test is Cancer Antigen 125, an indication of the hiked up protein levels in the blood; often seen in cases with ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory diseases.

Ovarian Cyst Treatment:

While most cysts disappear on their own, some cyst needs attention. An ovarian cyst that grows large and has particular symptoms need to be observed and, in some cases, immediate attention and surgery.

Oral contraceptives:

In some cases, the doctor might recommend birth control pills, the hormones in the pills might not treat the existing cyst, but prevent the new ones from appearing. Oral contraceptives also act protective against ovarian cancer.

Some ovarian cysts that grow large could be cancerous or are painful and might need surgery. Depending on the type and location of the cyst, the doctor might recommend either of the surgery.

Laparoscopy:

Laparoscopy is performed when the cysts are small. The process makes a tiny cut in the abdomen and a tube with a light camera at one end helps the doctor with a video-guided way to perform the surgery. The cyst and sometimes even the ovary are removed through the small incision.

Laparotomy :

This is a procedure that is conducted in case of larger and cancerous cysts. The procedure makes a large vertical cut below the belly button to the bikini line and is an open surgery to remove the cysts.

Oophorectomy:

The removal of both or one of the ovaries is sometimes seen as a measure to control the cysts or even for controlling cancer, if it has been detected. Oophorectomy is done in a laparoscopic way or an open surgery.

Some of the extensions of a cyst are complicated conditions that can be malignant and life-threatening. It is therefore recommended to have a check-up done from time to time.

Some of the extended complications with cysts are-

Ovarian torsion:

This condition can twist the ovary and stop the blood flow causing severe pelvic pain and nausea and needs to be immediately attended.

Rupture:

When a cyst grows too big, it can rupture due to severe activity in the pelvic region that could be because of intercourse too.

Once the cyst ruptures it causes severe pain as well as bleeding and needs immediate surgical attention.

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