Ovarian cysts are usually harmless, but they can lead to dangerous health conditions. The doctors at Southeast Texas OB/GYN Associates, PA in Beaumont, Texas, provide screenings and treatments for ovarian cysts.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled or semi-solid-filled sac found on or inside an ovary. Women have two ovaries. They’re located on each side of the uterus and are 3-5 centimeters long.
During your childbearing years, eggs develop in the ovaries and are released each month to allow for pregnancy. Most ovarian cysts are functional cysts, which means they’re a result of your menstrual cycle.
Each month, your ovaries grow follicles that are similar in structure to cysts. These follicles release an egg when you ovulate. But when this follicle continues growing, it becomes a functional cyst.
There are two types of functional cysts: follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts. Usually harmless and painless, they often disappear on their own.
Other ovarian cysts include:
- Cystadenomas: located on the ovary’s surface; filled with mucus or watery material
- Dermoid cysts (teratomas): formed from embryonic cells; can contain skin, teeth, or hair
- Endometriomas: endometrial tissue from the uterine lining growing on your ovary; happens in women with endometriosis
If they grow too large, these cysts can be problematic by pushing your ovary out of place, disrupting its blood flow, or causing pain and discomfort. Cysts can also rupture, causing internal bleeding and extreme pain.
Most ovarian cysts aren’t cancerous and have no symptoms. Your risk of developing them increases with pregnancy, endometriosis, and hormonal problems. If you have a history of ovarian cysts or severe pelvic infections, you’re also more likely to develop ovarian cysts in the future.
Some symptoms include:
- Fullness or heaviness in your abdomen
- An ache where the cyst is located
- Pain during intercourse
- Urge to have a bowel movement
If you experience sudden and severe pelvic pain, fever, nausea, or vomiting contact your doctor immediately.
Ovarian cysts are detectable during a pelvic exam. Depending on its size and type, your doctor might recommend the following tests:
- Pregnancy test: can identify corpus luteum cysts
- Pelvic ultrasound: to identify the cyst location and material
- CA 125 blood test: measures blood levels for ovarian cancer antigen 125
Treatment depends on your ovarian cyst type and size, your symptoms, and your age. In some cases, your doctor might suggest observation, medication, or surgery.
There’s no way to prevent ovarian cysts, but regular pelvic examinations help provide early diagnosis. Call or schedule an appointment online with Southeast Texas OB/GYN Associates, PA.