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Understanding Ovarian Cysts

Updated on July 13, 2010

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries.  Though, most cysts are harmless, they can cause the problems such as bleeding, rupturing or pain.  Ovaries produce eggs each month, and during the process of ovulation, a follicle is formed inside the ovary which ruptures after becoming matured.  If the process of becoming pregnant does not occur, the corpus luteum dissolves, but sometimes, the entire process is not concluded properly, forming functional ovarian cysts.

 Imbalance in the estrogen and progesterone hormones in female body can cause abnormal ovarian cysts such as polycystic ovarian disease.  Functional cysts usually shrink and vanish within few menstrual cycles, and are more common among women who are in their child-bearing years.  Dermoid cysts are filled with different types of tissues, including skin and hair.  Follicular cyst, corpus luteum cyst, hemorrhagic cyst, demroid cyst, endometriomas cysts, polycystic-appearing ovary and cystadenoma are all benign or noncancerous cysts or growths.

 Presence of ovarian cysts makes endometriosis worse, and chances of removing the ovaries are increased.  Polycystic ovarian disease is caused by the buildup of follicles, and causes the ovaries to enlarge, creating a thick covering that prevents ovulation.  Mostly, there are no symptoms caused by the ovarian cysts, but when symptoms are presents, the cyst may cause sense of pressure or fullness in the abdomen and a dull ache.  Pain during the intercourse and delayed and irregular periods are other symptom of presence of ovarian cysts.

 Ovarian cysts are usually diagnosed during the annual pelvic exam, and other diagnostic tests include laparoscopy and ultrasound.  The treatment of ovarian cysts depends on many factors including woman’s age and general health, type and size of the cyst, symptoms being experienced and future pregnancy plans of the woman.  Laparotomy is more invasive surgery where a cut is made in the abdominal wall to remove the cyst.  Limiting the amount of strenuous physical activity can reduce the risk of rupture or torsion of the cyst.

 To relieve the discomfort and pain caused by the cysts, common pain relievers such as ibuprofen, Tylenol or narcotic pain medicines can be taken at home.  It is important to minimize the strenuous physical activity to reduce the risk of cyst rupture.  Ovarian cysts in the post menopausal women can cause severe bleeding and pain, and in extreme cases, hysterectomy is recommended to get rid of the cysts.

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