Ovarian cysts are a normal occurrence for menstruating women. Most of the time, these cysts come and go without any problems. But when a cyst gets too large, or is caused by another condition, it can cause pain and other symptoms. There are several different kinds of ovarian cysts, so it’s important to know the difference between each type.
Cysts that form during ovulation
Each month, as the ovary gets ready to release an egg, a cyst forms. This is a normal part of ovulation. The cyst naturally breaks open and releases the egg for fertilization. Then, the cyst shrinks down and eventually goes away within one to three months. But if something doesn’t go as planned and the cyst doesn’t break open, it may remain on the ovary and start to grow. This can cause pain and bloating that can be severe. In some cases, these cysts need to be surgically removed.
PCOS causes numerous cysts
In women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the ovaries produce many small cysts each month that don’t break open and go away. These cysts then produce androgens: hormones that can make it difficult to become pregnant and cause other issues such as acne and weight gain. If you have symptoms of PCOS, talk with your gynecologist for diagnosis and treatment. The cysts can be seen on an ultrasound and you may need other lab tests.
Women with endometriosis can develop cysts known as endometriomas. These can also be seen on an ultrasound and can cause severe pain, particularly during your period when these cysts try to shed with the uterine lining. If you have symptoms of endometriosis, treatment with hormonal birth control and other medications can help shrink the endometriomas. They can also be removed with laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery.
Cancer and ovarian cysts
Rarely, a cyst is a sign of ovarian cancer. This is more common in women over the age of 63, but it can happen in younger women. Knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer can help you protect yourself.
Fortunately, the vast majority of cysts are benign and can be treated. But seeing your gynecologist regularly and talking with her about any symptoms you’re having is the best way to ensure you’re in good health. If a health condition like PCOS or endometriosis is causing your cysts, treating the underlying health condition may bring you much-needed relief.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.