What are ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cyst originated from the female reproductive organ called ovaries. Woman has two ovaries which alternatively produce and release an egg every month during the ovulation period. The ovaries also function to produce the female hormones which are the estrogen and progesterone.
At times, these ovaries produce a fluid filled sac called an ovarian cyst. Most of the women will develop at least one asymptomatic ovarian cyst in their lifetime. There are several types of ovarian cyst diagnosed till now commonly which are the functional cyst, dermoid cyst and inflammatory cyst known as endometrioma.
Functional cyst is the most common type of ovarian cyst diagnosed. There are typically 3 types of functional cyst as below;
- Follicular cyst. This is common in women at reproductive age. Normally an egg will grow and develop in a sac called secondary follicle. This follicle then breaks open to release the egg on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle. If this fails to happen, the fluid in the follicle may develop into an ovarian cyst
- Theca lutein cyst. This cyst is common after the ovulation period. It is also present in women diagnosed with complete molar pregnancy.
- Corpus luteum cyst. Follicle sacs usually disintegrate after releasing an egg, but if it does not dissolve, the remaining fluid in it can become ovarian cyst
Endometrioma on the other hand are deep tissues of your uterus seated in your ovaries due to retrograde menstruation. It is often called a chocolate cyst based on its appearance. Dermoid cyst are mature teratoma that contain different types of germ cell layer such as hair, teeth, fat and other tissues.
How to get rid of ovarian cyst?
Diagnosing ovarian cysts nowadays are easier by imaging modalities. First, the doctor will do an abdominal examination to detect any obvious bulging mass on either side of your lower abdomen. A pelvic examination is then carried out to further confirm the findings.
As for imaging investigations, your doctor will most probably order a pelvic ultrasound. Ultrasound is an imaging modality which uses sound waves to detect abnormalities in the form of images. If ultrasound diagnosis is uncertain, further investigations such as CT scan and MRI can be done.
Most cysts will regress on its own after a period of time, if this does not happen or the cyst becomes bigger in size, your doctor might recommend these treatment options to remove or shrink the cysts.
- Contraceptive pills
They work by blocking the negative feedback mechanism created by the estrogen and progesterone hormones, thus preventing your ovaries from producing and releasing new cysts. Some common side effects of contraceptive pills are breakthrough bleeding, weight gain, increased risk in breast and cervical carcinoma.
- Laparoscopy surgery
The size of your ovarian cysts also influences the option of treatment given. If the cyst is small enough, a surgical procedure called laparoscopy can be done to remove the cyst. This typically means making a small incision near your umbilicus and inserting an instrument with a tiny camera to remove out the cyst.
If the ovarian cyst is huge and cannot be removed via laparoscopy, a large incision has to be done in the middle of your abdomen and surgically remove the cyst. An urgent histopathological biopsy will be conducted to rule out the possibility of a cancer.
Prevention of ovarian cyst
Normally, ovarian cyst cannot be prevented but having routine gynecological pelvic examination can help to diagnose ovarian cyst early and to start the treatment. Symptoms of ovarian cysts mimic ovarian cancer. Therefore, do inform your doctor if you ever feel symptoms such as;
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Loss of appetite and early satiety
- Abdominal distension and bloating sensation
- Unexplained weight loss