An ovarian cyst can be described as collection of fluid within the ovary of a woman (the female reproductive organ that produces eggs), bounded by a very thin wall. In the normal course of a woman's menstrual cycle, the fluid sacs commonly appear, as the ovaries prepare eggs to release them into the fallopian tubes. However, it is when the ovarian follicles become larger than about two centimeters that they are termed as ovarian cysts. A single ovarian cyst can grow up to become the size of a cantaloupe as well. In an ultrasound image, ovarian cysts resemble bubbles.
Ovarian cysts can affect women falling in almost any and every age group. However, they are mostly seen to trouble women in their childbearing years. In majority of the cases, ovarian cysts are functional in nature and do not pose any threat to a woman and are non cancerous in nature. Still, there are many cases when they cause problems, in the form of rupturing, bleeding, or pain. In case this happens, surgery might be required to remove the cyst(s). Along with that, surgery can also be employed to remove the cysts that become larger than 5 centimeters in diameter.
Signs & Symptoms Of Ovarian Cyst
In the following lines, we have listed some of the most common symptoms associated with ovarian cysts. However, it is not necessary that these will surely be experienced, in case a cyst forms.
- Dull aching, or severe, sudden, and sharp pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen (one or both sides)
- Pain in the pelvis, vagina, lower back, or thighs; which might be constant or intermittent
- Fullness, heaviness, pressure, swelling, or bloating in the abdomen
- Breast tenderness
- Pain during or shortly after beginning or end of menstrual period
- Irregular periods, or abnormal uterine bleeding or spotting
- Alteration in the frequency or ease of urination (such as inability to fully empty the bladder)
- Difficulty with bowel movements due to pressure on adjacent pelvic anatomy
- Pain accompanied by fever or vomiting
- Unexplained weight gain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue and regular headaches
- Increased level of hair growth
- Increased facial hair or body hair
- Strange pains in ribs, which feel muscular
- Strange nodules that feel like bruises under the layer of skin
- Pain during intercourse
In severe cases, the above symptoms might also be accompanied by:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Severe abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath and/or rapid breathing
Many of the symptoms experienced in case of ovarian cysts are similar to the ones seen in case of other, more serious medical conditions, like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy or ovarian cancer. In fact, the signs observed in case of a ruptured ovarian cyst might also be present in case of appendicitis and diverticulitis. Therefore, it is important to take the symptoms very seriously and consult a doctor immediately. This will ensure that the ailment is correctly diagnosed and the right line of treatment gets followed.