The ovaries are a pair of oval structures that are present on each side of the body. Ovaries produce eggs and release the hormones estrogen and progesterone which, in turn, regulate the menstrual cycle.
At times, a fluid-filled, sac-like structure develops on either of the ovaries. This growth is known as an ovarian cyst. It is said that every woman may have at least one ovarian cyst occurring in her entire lifetime. However, these cysts are often painless and may have no significant symptoms.
In most cases, these cysts are harmless and may dissolve on their own. However, if the cyst persists, it can cause pain and discomfort in the pelvic area and can even lead to infertility.
The initial stages of ovarian cyst formation do not necessarily show any symptoms. However, symptoms may start appearing as the cyst starts growing. These symptoms may include:
Other than the above-mentioned symptoms, there are two conditions which can result from a cyst: ruptured cyst or ovarian torsion. Both of these conditions are medical emergencies. Their symptoms are the following:
Ovarian cysts are diagnosed with the following tests:
Treatment consists of two basic approaches: medicines and surgery. Medicines may be given to “shrink” the cyst if it is not too big. If the cyst is large in size, it has to be removed by surgery.
Birth control pills are effective in those with recurring ovarian cysts.
Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure. A tiny incision near the navel is made, and the cyst is taken out with the help of a small instrument.
Laparotomy can remove big cysts. A large incision is made on the abdomen. The cyst is then sent for biopsy to detect whether there are malignant cells present. If the cyst shows cancerous characters, removal of uterus and ovaries may be recommended.
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