Non-menopausal women develop cysts naturally. Your ovaries are located on either side of your uterus. They produce your hormones and eggs. Sometimes a cyst will form on one of your ovaries. The cysts are filled with either fluid or semi-solid matter. They are called functioning cysts and occur during ovulation. These cysts generally shrink on their own by three months time. Those who take the epilepsy drug Valporate can develop ovarian cysts as well, as can women with endometriosis, PID or bulimia. Some women have an ovarian cyst and are not even aware of it. Others may feel aching on one side of the abdomen, pain during intercourse, vomiting, increased facial hair or irregular periods.
Non Malignant Ovarian Cysts
There are four types of non-malignant cysts:
This occurs when a normal follicle (the sac that releases the egg) doesn’t shrink after releasing an egg. The cyst fills with clear fluid, which may eventually burst, causing pain and cramping. More often than not, the follicular cysts will disappear on its own over a few months. If the follicular cyst is causing you discomfort or irregular periods, your doctor will follow its progress.
Corpus Luteum Cyst:
This less common type of cyst can cause discomfort or pain. It develops when an egg is released followed by bleeding in the follicle. If you have a corpus luteum cyst, you may have a late period. If the cyst ruptures, it can bleed into the abdomen and require surgery.
Theca Luteum Cyst:
This is the least common of the functional cysts. A theca luteum cyst often develops in both ovaries when there is an abnormal pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is terminated, the cysts usually disappear on their own.
Polycystic ovaries are a grouping of clear, fluid filled cysts in both of your ovaries. These can occur when you have hormonal imbalances and menstrual cycle problems.
Ovarian Cysts – Diagnosis
If your doctor suspects an ovarian cyst, he or she will give you a sonogram. This can be done vaginally or across your abdomen. This is painless and usually takes less than half an hour. You may also receive a blood test to determine the level of the protein CA-125 in your body. This can help to determine if there is a possibility of cancer and is often performed in women with a high risk of ovarian cancer.
Treatment of Ovarian Cysts
Surgery may be performed if your cyst does not go away on its own after several months. This is especially true if the cyst grows larger and appears abnormal. If you are menopausal, your doctor will probably want to remove the cyst with surgery and test it for ovarian cancer. This is a rare cancer, but should be investigated any time a cyst is abnormal or will not go away on its own.