What are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets within or on the surface of an ovary. Women have two ovaries — each about the size and shape of an almond — on each side of the uterus. Eggs (ova), which develop and mature in the ovaries, are released in monthly cycles during the childbearing years. As The London Gynaecologist, I often address concerns and provide treatment for women with ovarian cysts, aiming to offer both reassurance and effective care.

Understanding Ovarian Cysts

Most ovarian cysts are benign (non-cancerous) and naturally occur as a result of the menstrual cycle (functional cysts). However, there are various types of ovarian cysts, each with its own causes and potential health implications.

Causes and Types of Ovarian Cysts

  • Functional Cysts: The most common type, these cysts form during the menstrual cycle. They are usually harmless and often disappear on their own.
  • Dermoid Cysts: These are formed from embryonic cells and can contain hair, skin, or teeth.
  • Cystadenomas: These develop from ovarian tissue and are filled with a watery or mucous material.
  • Endometriomas: These cysts form as a result of endometriosis, a condition where uterine lining cells grow outside the uterus.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

Many ovarian cysts don’t cause symptoms. However, symptoms can appear as the cyst grows, including:

  • Pelvic pain — a constant or intermittent dull ache that may radiate to your lower back and thighs
  • Bloating, swelling, or heaviness in your abdomen
  • Pain during bowel movements or pressure on your bowels
  • Nausea, vomiting, or breast tenderness similar to that experienced during pregnancy
  • Painful intercourse

Diagnosing and Treating Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are often discovered during a routine pelvic examination. Further evaluation may include ultrasound or other imaging tests to determine the cyst’s type and whether treatment is needed.

Treatment depends on the cyst type, size, and symptoms. Options include watchful waiting for functional cysts, birth control pills to prevent new cysts, and surgery for larger cysts or those that don’t go away on their own or appear abnormal.

For those concerned about ovarian cysts or seeking more information, our clinic is here to help. Understanding your condition is the first step towards effective treatment and peace of mind.