The ovaries are integral to the female reproductive system. It is here where the eggs are produced. Additionally, the ovaries make progesterone and estrogen. When functioning as they should, the ovaries don’t get much attention. We pay attention to them when they cause unnerving symptoms. Often, symptoms are the result of ovarian cysts, fluid-filled sacs that form on one or both of the ovaries. This condition is not uncommon, many women experience at least one ovarian cyst in their lifetime. Here, we discuss what you should know about them, including when you may require a doctor’s care.
Not all ovarian cysts cause symptoms. Many women don’t know they have one until their doctor finds it during a routine pelvic exam. A symptomatic ovarian cyst may give warning signs like spotting, pelvic aching, and irregular periods. Usually, these symptoms do not indicate a serious cause for alarm. However, anytime new gynecological symptoms occur, it is a good idea to schedule a check-up with your trusted physician.
Ovarian cysts also do not affect fertility, at least not in most cases. Clusters of small ovarian cysts are a classic sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that can lead to infertility. The endometriomas that result from endometriosis may also pose a risk to fertility. This is why, when symptoms of ovarian cysts occur, it is important to talk to your gynecologist. An accurate diagnosis of the type of cyst you have can facilitate proper treatment as needed to protect fertility and overall reproductive health.
Ovarian Cysts 101
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are benign. They generally do not become cancerous. Some of the most common types of ovarian cysts include:
- Dermoids, which form out of cells that have been present since birth.
- Endometriomas, which are a byproduct of endometriosis.
- Cystadenomas, which are fluid-filled sacs on the surface of the ovary.
While most ovarian cysts are mild and temporary, some do require urgent care. If you experience the following symptoms, you should go to a nearby emergency room for prompt care:
- Ovarian or pelvic pain with fever and vomiting
- Sudden, severe pelvic or abdominal pain
- Weakness or dizziness
- Rapid breathing along with pelvic or ovarian pain
Ovarian Cyst Treatment
The good news about ovarian cysts is that most of the women who get them do not require special treatment. Women who are regularly affected by recurring ovarian cysts may be prescribed birth control pills to better manage their hormone levels and decrease the risk of new cysts forming. A minor surgical procedure may be recommended in the occasional instances in which ovarian cysts do not resolve on their own, become very large, or develop near or after menopause.