An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms on the outside or inside of one or both of a woman’s ovaries. Most women experience at least one in their lifetime.
In some cases, ovarian cysts can lead to symptoms that include:
There are different types of cysts and they can affect your fertility and your health. But often, an ovarian cyst is manageable and may not require treatment.
To best understand the risks of ovarian cysts and what they mean to your health, it’s important to work with an expert medical team with years of experience providing quality care.
If you’re concerned about ovarian cysts, urogynecologist Dr. Neeraj Kohli and the team at BostonUrogyn, serving Wellesley and South Weymouth, Massachusetts, can help.
Most cysts are known as functional cysts. They develop because of your menstrual cycle and are generally harmless. This type comes in two forms:
These occur in the middle of your menstrual cycle, when an egg bursts out of an ovarian follicle (a sac filled with fluid in the ovary that secretes hormones) and moves into the fallopian tube. The cyst forms when the egg isn’t released from the ovary and continues to grow.
When the ovarian follicle releases the egg, the follicle begins to produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone for conception. At this point it’s referred to as the corpus luteum. The cyst forms when fluid forms inside the follicle.
These cysts are common, often harmless, and go away on their own in 2-3 cycles.
Less common ovarian cysts include dermoid cysts, cystadenomas, and endometriomas. Dermoid cysts (teratomas) form from embryonic cells. Cystadenomas form on the surface of the ovary and can be filled with a watery or mucous substance.
Endometriomas happen during endometriosis (a condition where endometrial cells grow outside the uterus), when tissue attaches to the ovary and forms a growth.
These cysts can grow much larger and cause complications. Risk factors for ovarian cysts include hormonal changes, pregnancy, endometriosis, a previous cyst, and a pelvic infection.
Functional cysts have minor effects on the body, but the rarer ovarian cysts can be dangerous.
Dermoid cysts and cystadenomas can cause a condition called ovarian torsion. This is the result of an enlarged cyst twisting the ovary, which can slow or stop blood flow to the ovaries. This may cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Another possibility is a cyst rupture, which can result in abdominal pain and internal bleeding. Larger cysts increase the risk of this happening, as does sexual intercourse.
You may not even feel a functional cyst, so treatment is usually unnecessary. If a cyst is detected, regular exams using ultrasound are helpful to monitor issues and address any symptoms. If symptoms are severe, Dr. Kohli may recommend medications and even surgery.
Most of the time, you may not even know you have an ovarian cyst. But if you’re dealing with symptoms that may indicate an ovarian cyst, it’s time to see Dr. Kohli. Call one of our Boston area locations today or book your appointment online.