When do Ovarian Cysts Require Medical Intervention?

When do Ovarian Cysts Require Medical Intervention?

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on your ovaries. Although you may be shocked to learn during a well-woman exam that you may have one (or more), they’re actually quite common. In fact, most menstruating women develop an ovarian cyst each time they mature and release an egg.

At Lake Mary Gynecology in Lake Mary, Florida, our expert gynecologist, Sonia Enriquez, MD, wants you to feel comfortable in your body and understand its needs. That’s why she takes ovarian cysts on a case-by-case basis. If you have ovarian cysts, here’s what you need to know before considering medical intervention.

Most ovarian cysts are benign and limited

In almost all cases, ovarian cysts are benign (i.e., noncancerous) and are just a normal part of your monthly cycle. The most common types of benign ovarian cysts are both result from normal menstrual processes:

Follicle cysts

Your eggs grow in tiny sacs called follicles. During your period, when an egg matures, the follicle breaks open and releases the egg into your fallopian tube. Sometimes, though, the follicle doesn’t break open and continues to grow into a cyst. These usually resolve on their own within a few months and don’t cause symptoms.

Corpus luteum cysts

After a follicle cyst breaks open and releases an egg, it’s supposed to shrink into a small mass of cells called the corpus luteum, which makes hormones for the next egg. However, if the follicle doesn’t shrink and instead reseals itself, fluid builds up inside the sac.

Most of the time, corpus luteum cysts also disappear within a few weeks to months. However, they can continue to grow and cause pain. They may also twist, bleed, or rupture.

Other, rarer types of benign cysts are:

As long as your cysts don’t cause pain, you don’t have to seek medical intervention. If you still have ovarian cysts after menopause, it’s best to monitor them with annual ultrasound studies to ensure that they don’t grow or become cancerous, and to catch any troubling changes at the earliest possible stage.

Painful ovarian cysts need treatment

If you feel excruciating pain in your abdomen or pelvis, your cyst may have ruptured or twisted. Signs that your ovarian cyst requires immediate medical intervention at your nearest urgent care center or emergency room include:

A ruptured cyst may also cause heavy bleeding. After your doctors evaluate your cyst, they may give you painkillers. They may also recommend hormonal birth control to reduce the incidence of cysts. In cases of cysts that are extremely large or last for more than a few months, we may recommend surgical removal.

Ovarian cysts that change may need removal

If you have a cystadenoma, dermoid cyst, or an endometrioma that doesn’t resolve on its own, or starts to grow larger and cause discomfort, we may recommend surgery. Only about 5-10% of women with ovarian cysts ever need surgery. Rarely, other types of cysts require removal, too.

The main reasons to remove a large cyst is to prevent rupture or twisting, or to prevent ovarian cancer. If you have persistent cysts, we recommend monitoring them by ultrasound at least once a year, especially if you’re menopausal. Ovarian cysts that start to change or grow should be removed and biopsied.

A cyst is more likely to become cancerous if you’re postmenopausal. However, of all the cysts that are surgically removed, only 13-21% are cancerous. Your doctor will determine the best way to treat your cysts.

You can still become pregnant if you have cysts

If you have ovarian cysts, you may wonder if they’ll affect your fertility. In most cases, they don’t and you should be able to become pregnant. However, if endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the cause of your cysts, those conditions could impair your fertility. We then treat those conditions to increase your chance of conception.

Once you decide to become pregnant, you also discontinue any hormonal birth control you used to control your cysts. We monitor you closely to be sure that your cysts don’t grow larger during pregnancy.

If you have painful or persistent ovarian cysts and want relief through hormonal therapy, painkillers, or surgery, contact us today. Phone our helpful staff or use our convenient online booking form.

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