Ovarian Cyst - Types and Your Options on How to Get Rid of Them.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary. They are very common and they do not usually cause any symptoms. In most cases, they are benign, harmless and usually disappear without the need for treatment. However, if the cyst is large or is causing symptoms, it may have to be surgically removed or the other option is using a natural cure.
Types of Ovarian Cyst.
There are two main types: Functional and Pathological:
- Functional is the most common type. They are harmless and are usually short-lived and form as part of the menstrual cycle.
- Pathological cysts these are much more unusual or uncommon and occur as the result of abnormal cell growth, but most pathological ovarian cysts are not cancerous.
How Common are They?
They can affect women of any age and are very common. It is estimated that nearly all women who have monthly periods may have them, and 1 in 5 women who have been through the menopause, will have one or more ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts that cause symptoms are much less common, only affecting about 1 in every 25 females at some point in their life.
Ovarian cysts usually do not affect a woman's ability to conceive. Even if the cyst is larger and needs to be removed, this is usually done using laparoscopy, which preserves a woman's fertility.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts.
The symptoms are quite varied but they can become quite apparent, overall the usual symptoms are associated with:
- Experiencing constipation.
- A frequent need to pass water.
- Persistent pelvic pain or pelvic pain during sexual intercourse, which can range from a dull heavy sensation (associated with large cysts) to a sudden, sharp pain (which is associated with a ruptured cyst or torsion).
- Changes to your normal monthly period i.e. they become irregular or heavier or lighter than usual.
- Feelings of fullness and bloating, indigestion or feeling very full even though you have only eaten a small portion.
If you experience any of the above symptoms then you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
There are various types of functional ovarian cyst: Follicular and Luteal cysts. Follicular cysts are the most common of ovarian cysts, they occur when an egg forms in a tiny structure inside the ovary called a follicle. The follicle contains fluid to protect the egg as it grows and it bursts when the egg is released. But, a follicle does not release an egg, or it does not lose its fluid and shrink after the egg has been released. If this does happen, the follicle enlarges as it fills with fluid and becomes a follicular ovarian cyst. Usually, only one cyst appears at a time and it will often disappear naturally without treatment after a few weeks.
Luteal cysts are less common than follicular cysts. They develop when the tissue that is left behind after an egg has been released, known as the corpus luteum, and fills with blood. They usually disappear naturally as well within a few months, but they can occasionally rupture or burst, causing internal bleeding and sudden pain.
Dermoid & Cystadenomas
A dermoid cyst is the most common type of pathological cyst in women who are under 40 years old. But woman who are over 40 years of age, a cystadenoma is the most common type.
Dermoid cysts develop from the cells that are used to create eggs. As eggs have the ability to create any type of cells, dermoid cysts can consist of a wide range of human tissue, including blood, fat, bone and hair.They can to grow to be very large up to 15cm (6 inches) in diameter. They are not usually cancerous, but will usually need to be surgically removed.
Cystadenomas develop from cells that cover the outer part of the ovary. There are two main types of cystadenomas:
- serous cystadenomas
- mucinous cystadenomas
Serous cystadenomas do not usually grow to a large size but they can cause symptoms if they rupture. In contrast, mucinous cystadenomas can grow very large up to 30cm or 12 inches), filling up the inside of the abdomen and placing pressure on other organs, such as the bladder and bowel. The common symptoms are indigestion or a frequent need to urinate. The larger mucinous cystadenomas have a risk of rupturing, or blocking the blood supply to the ovaries (torsion). Like dermoid cysts, mucinous cystadenomas are rarely cancerous.
What Causes Ovarian Cysts?
The main causes are Endometriosis which occurs when pieces of the tissue that line the womb (the endometrium) are found outside the womb in areas such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, bowel, vagina or rectum. This is where blood-filled cysts can form in this type tissue.
Another main cause is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is a condition that causes lots of small, harmless cysts to develop on your ovaries. The cysts develop if there is a problem with the balance of hormones that are produced by the ovaries.
Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts
In general they will not cause any symptoms, and often go undiagnosed. But they are diagnosed sometimes by chance usually. during a pelvic examination. They can also be spotted when people have an ultrasound scan for an unrelated reason.
If you have symptoms that could be caused by an ovarian cyst, your GP will probably refer you to a gynecologist, who will carry out a vaginal examination to see whether they can feel any abnormal swelling. But to confirm an ovarian cyst, you usually have an ultrasound scan, which works by building up a picture of your ovaries. Also you may have an internal scan with a probe, which is small, tube-shaped, probe placed inside your vagina to scan your ovaries. An ultrasound scan can usually confirm whether you have a cyst on the ovaries and the size.
Your doctor may refer you for a blood test if your ultrasound scan shows the cyst to partly solid, as opposed to being filled with fluid. The blood test will show levels of a protein called CA125, which is often elevated in cases of ovarian cancer. If your blood test shows a higher than normal level of CA125, it does not automatically mean that you have ovarian cancer because levels can fluctuate from individual to individual.
Treating Ovarian Cysts
If you have an ovarian cyst, whether it needs to be treated will depend on various factors such as:
- Its overall appearance and size.
- Whether you have any symptoms and how bothersome they are.
- If you have been through the menopause, post-menopausal women have a slightly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
If you are diagnosed with the cysts then your doctor may advise that you wait and see what happens, known as‘watchful waiting’ where you receive no immediate treatment. This is due that most cysts will disappear after a few weeks without the need for treatment. A follow-up ultrasound scan will usually confirms this. As the risk is slightly higher of ovarian cancer in women who have gone through the menopause, then regular ultrasound scans and blood tests should be undertaken until the cyst disappears. Also, post-menopausal women should have a follow-up ultrasound scan four months after the cysts have gone.
If the cyst is large, or your are experiencing symptoms, it is likely to be removed. Your Doctor may recommend removing a cyst even if it is not causing symptoms as it is not always possible to tell what type of cyst it is without looking at it under a microscope. Removing it will reduce the risk of it becoming cancerous later on.
There are two types of operation, which are usually carried out under general anesthetic; laparoscopy and laparotomy.
Laparoscopy is a type of keyhole surgery where small cuts are made in your lower abdomen and gas is blown into the pelvis to lift the wall of the abdomen away from the organs inside. This is used on smaller cysts and is the preferred procedure because it causes less pain, helps to preserve fertility and lets you resume normal activity sooner. Whereas laparotomy is used when there is a risk that the cyst is cancerous, this is a more invasive procedure.
What are Your Other Options?
The Natural Approach - Less Painful Option.
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