Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts affect women during their reproductive years. They can cause discomfort and women often worry about cysts’ impact on their health. Read on to find out the nature, symptoms, causes, and types of ovarian cysts, while also learning about treatment and removal options.

What are Ovarian Cysts?

The ovaries are two small, bean-shaped organs located on either side of the uterus in a woman’s lower abdomen. Ovaries play a crucial role in women’s health, being responsible for producing eggs as well as hormones like oestrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled pockets or sacs that appear within or on the surface of these small organs. Ovarian cysts can be benign and resolve on their own. They vary in size, and while some may cause symptoms, a large number of them are discovered incidentally during routine medical examinations.

However, you should see a doctor to be sure that your cyst is harmless and not indicative of any underlying condition.

Common Signs and Symptoms

These are some signs that indicate your cyst is problematic and affecting your health and daily life:

  • pelvic pain
  • bloating
  • swelling
  • pressure in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst
  • painful bowel movements
  • pain during intercourse
    irregularity, heaviness, or lightness during periods

If you experience sudden, severe abdominal pain, fever, or vomiting, your cyst might have ruptured. You should seek medical assistance immediately.

Causes and Risk Factors

The development of ovarian cysts is influenced by several factors. Some relate to certain health conditions, such as:

A person is more susceptible to the formation of ovarian cysts if they possess the following risk factors: 

  • a history of previous ovarian cysts
  • hormonal imbalances
  • obesity
  • early menstruation
  • exposure to certain fertility drugs

Because of the variety of causes and risk factors, women need to have regular pelvic examinations.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts can vary greatly not only in size and symptoms but also in their origins and potential impacts on health. Here’s a more detailed look at the more common types of cysts:

The most common variety, functional cysts, are directly related to the menstrual cycle. They are typically harmless and often resolve on their own within a few menstrual cycles. There are two types of functional cysts: follicular cysts, which form when the follicle fails to release the egg and continues to grow, and corpus luteum cysts, which occur when the follicle does not dissolve after releasing the egg.

Dermoid cysts are unique because they can contain a variety of tissues, such as hair, skin, and even teeth. Despite their startling content, dermoid cysts are usually benign. They can grow quite large and cause discomfort, which is why they are usually removed.

Often associated with endometriosis, a condition where uterine lining tissue grows outside the uterus, endometriomas are cysts formed from this external tissue growing on the ovaries. They can cause pain, especially during menstruation and sexual intercourse, and can even affect fertility.

These cysts form from ovarian tissue and can be filled with a watery or mucous material. Cystadenomas can become quite large and tend to cause abdominal discomfort or pain as they grow. While they are typically benign, cystadenomas need to be monitored or removed due to their size and problem-causing potential.

PCOS is a condition that can be associated with the development of many small cysts within the ovaries. These cysts are actually follicles that contain eggs that have not matured or been released as expected. PCOS can cause hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, and is linked to infertility issues.

Treatment Options for Ovarian Cysts

The approach to treating ovarian cysts depends on the cyst itself. If the cyst is small and asymptomatic, your doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach. Regular ultrasounds can be used to monitor the cyst’s size and growth over time.

Pain Relief

For those experiencing discomfort or pain from cysts, pain relievers can provide relief. Additionally, lifestyle modifications like regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Hormonal Birth Control

In some cases, hormonal birth control methods like the pill, patch, or ring may be prescribed to prevent the development of new cysts during the menstrual cycle. It's important to note that while hormonal birth control can prevent new cysts, it does not shrink existing ones.


Ovarian Cyst Surgery and Removal

Surgery may be considered for large cysts, cysts that do not appear to be functional or persist over several menstrual cycles. Types of surgery include cystectomy, where the cyst is removed but the ovary is preserved, and oophorectomy, where the affected ovary is removed.  The choice of surgery depends on factors such as the cyst's type, the woman's age, her desire to have children, and whether there is a risk of cancer.

Ovarian Cyst screening in Singapore

At W Gynae, we understand how worrying an ovarian cyst can be and want to help women with this condition return to living their lives pain-free as quickly as possible. We specialise in providing personalised women’s healthcare for women of all ages and various conditions. 

As we help you with your ovarian cyst screening, we’ll also discuss your health profile and any cost concerns you might have. We want you to always feel comfortable in our hands.

Frequently Asked Questions

While not all ovarian cysts can be prevented, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and having regular pelvic exams can help monitor and manage potential issues. For those with recurring cysts, hormonal birth control may be an option to prevent ovulation and reduce the formation of new cysts.

Yes, ovarian cysts can recur, especially if the underlying causes, such as hormonal imbalances or conditions like endometriosis, are not addressed.

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