What is the function of the ovaries in the body?
The function of the ovary is to generate and release female gametes, that is, the eggs that combine with sperm to create a fetus. Ovaries also release many vital hormones.
The ovaries release at least one egg each month for possible fertilization. Ovaries are an important part of the female reproductive system and they produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
What is an ovarian cyst?
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled pockets that form in the ovaries during childbearing years. A cyst is usually formed when the egg is not released or when the sac holding the egg does not dissolve after the egg is released at the time of ovulation.
What does it feel like when you have a cyst on your ovary?
- Irregular periods
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pain during periods
- Abdominal pain (lower).
- Dull ache in the lower back and thighs
- Problems emptying the bladder or bowel completely (larger cysts)
- Unusual (not normal) vaginal bleeding
- Breast pain on touching
- Needing to urinate more often
- Severity in pain is increased if the cyst is ruptured.
- Ovarian cyst complication (Sometimes a cyst can cause twisting of an ovary during which a patient may have severe pain with nausea and vomiting)
Are ovarian cysts dangerous?
Ovarian cysts are usually harmless. The majority disappear without treatment within a few months. However, a large ovarian cyst can cause severe symptoms which include sudden, severe abdominal pain with fever, difficulty breathing and weakness. Medical attention would be needed if there is a large ovarian cyst found during clinical examination; in rare cases, cysts might turn into a cancer. Malignancy (aggressive cancer) is a common concern among patients with ovarian cysts, but malignancy risk is less than 1% in simple and small cysts.
How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
Ovarian cysts are usually an incidental finding in clinical examination, but if the patient has symptoms, below are two methods to specifically diagnosis ovarian cyst.
- Abdominal examination/pelvic examination: During this physical examination a lump with pain on massage/palpitation may be noted in the pelvic area.
- Ultrasound examination: An ultrasound scan may reveal the size and location of ovarian cyst.
What are the treatment options available for ovarian cyst?
Generally doctors usually advise the patients to wait and watch as the cyst might go away without any treatment, but if the patients have persistent symptoms below are the treatment options:
- Oral contraceptives or birth control pills: They protect against the development of functional ovarian cysts by preventing ovulation and reducing the chances of forming new cysts.
- Laparoscopy: This surgery is done when the cysts are small and patient has persistent symptoms. A small scope (camera) is inserted via a small cut, and the cyst is punctured and removed.
- Laparotomy: This surgery is done when the patient has large cysts with persistent symptoms. A larger cut is made over the abdomen and the cyst is taken out.
- Bilateral oophorectomy with hysterectomy: This surgery is usually advised to patients after menopause. The surgery removes the entire uterus with ovaries and decreases the chance of ovarian cancer.