Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with liquid that develop or is adjacent to the ovary. The cyst can develop for unknown reasons, it can grow significantly and – in very rare cases – it can interfere with secretion of sex hormones in the ovary.
In some cases, and ovum is developing in the ovary and forms a small cyst, so-called ovarian cyst. Such cysts are usually not accompanied by symptoms, and they usually disappear after a few months.
Ovaries cysts often do not cause symptoms, although you may notice a hard, painless swelling in the lower abdomen, or pain during the intercourse. A large cyst can pressurise the urinary bladder and thus cause difficulty in urinating. If the cyst affects the secretion of the hormone, symptoms – such as bleeding from the vagina and increased hairiness (see hypothalamic dysfunction) – can occur. The cyst can also ”twist” (ovarian torsion), which will be accompanied by severe stomach pain, nausea, and fever.
Ovarian cysts are not common, and every year due to this illness only 1 in 2000 women are treated. The cyst, that does not cause any discomfort, is often found during a routine medical examination.
The most dangerous risk comes from the possible strong torsion or rupture, which can cause peritonitis. In the long run, it is dangerous (albeit slight) because of the potential for developing malignant tumors (see ovarian cancer).
What to do?
If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor. The examination will determine whether an abnormal enlargement has developed and, in that case, your doctor will refer you to the gynecologist for further examination, including possibly laparoscopy.
The cyst is usually removed with surgery. This can be done without damaging the ovary, although sometimes the entire ovary, and possibly the oviduct, should be removed. If you do not intend to have more children or have passed menopause, the gynecologist will probably advise you to remove both ovaries and possibly the uterus to avoid the possibility of developing a malignant tumor.