Ovarian cysts are a common condition that don't usually cause any symptoms, consisting of a fluid-filled sac developing on a woman's uterus. In many cases, they disappear within a few months without the need for treatment.
Ovarian cyst symptoms
Symptoms usually only occur if the ovarian cyst ruptures, is very big, or is cutting off the flow of blood to the ovaries. Symptoms of ovarian cysts to look out for are:
- Frequent urination
- Trouble emptying bowels
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bloated stomach
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Feeling full after eating little food
- Trouble getting pregnant.
If any of these symptoms persist, it is recommended you get in touch with a GP or specialist. Immediate medical attention should be sought if sudden and severe pelvic pain is experienced, as this may be indicative of other, more serious health problems.
If it is suspected you have an ovarian cyst, an ultrasound will probably be necessary to confirm diagnosis.
Types of ovarian cyst
There are two main types of ovarian cyst. These are:
- Functional ovarian cysts which develop during the menstrual cycle. These are the most common type, and are generally harmless.
- Pathological ovarian cysts are caused by abnormal cell growth and are much less common.
In some cases, ovarian cysts form because of another hidden condition such as endometriosis. Most ovarian cysts are non-cancerous, but in a few cases they have been known to be malignant especially in women who have gone through menopause.
Is treatment necessary?
Ovarian cyst treatment depends on a number of factors, including: size and appearance, the presence of other symptoms, and whether the patient has been through menopause. The majority of the time the ovarian cyst will disappear after a few months, but a follow-up ultrasound is usually carried out in order to affirm this.
In cases where the patient is more at risk of ovarian cancer, for example in post-menopausal women, frequent ultrasounds and blood tests are normally carried out in order to monitor the cyst.
If the ovarian cyst is large, or possibly cancerous, surgery may be advised to have it removed. If this is the case, speak with your GP or specialist regarding how fertility may be affected.