Ovarian cysts are sacs in or on the surface of the ovary. Most are harmless, but in some cases they can grow large or cause an obstruction. If you’ve recently found out that you have ovarian cysts, it’s natural to wonder how ovarian cysts may impact your health. 

You’re in the right place when it comes to learning more about women’s health. Board-certified OB/GYN Kiran Patel, MD, women’s health specialist Leela Patel, MD, and our clinical team are devoted to helping women maintain health and live their fullest life. 

First it’s important to know that most women have ovarian cysts, and are unaware of it. You may find out that you have ovarian cysts incidentally if you get an ultrasound for another purpose, or if it grows large enough to cause discomfort or other issues. If you have bothersome ovarian cysts, there are treatment options to relieve any related symptoms. 

What are ovarian cysts?

There are two types of ovarian cysts: functional cysts and nonfunctional cysts. Functional cysts are more common. They arise from normal ovarian function. How it works is every month when you ovulate you produce a small cyst as part of the process.

In addition to this, several smaller cysts develop each month and tag along for the voyage. The body makes egg-containing follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts that the follicular cyst transforms into after ovulation.

Follicular cysts are filled with clear fluid and don’t have much of a blood supply. They occasionally can get rather large, measuring up to four inches in diameter. After a few weeks have passed, these cysts usually disappear. 

Because these are nearly always harmless, we simply watch and wait for them to go away on their own.

Healthy cysts and fertility

The follicular cyst transforms into a corpus luteum cyst after ovulation, which produces hormones that help the uterus prepare for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs during ovulation, the cysts will disappear in two weeks. 

These types of cysts produce a lot of hormones and have a lot of blood supply. If they don’t disappear on their own they can cause some issues.

Cysts that tend to negatively impact health

Certain cysts are linked with bothersome symptoms. Any of the tissues in the ovary can expand to form a cyst, and some of these cysts can grow extremely large. The heaviest cyst ever documented weighed 328 pounds

These cysts appear in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the sort of cells that created them. If you develop a large cyst, surgery to remove the cyst is the preferred treatment. 

For smaller cysts, we may recommend medication to help shrink the cyst. Even if a cyst isn’t large, certain cysts cause heavy menstrual bleeding, and treatment can help lighten your flow and return it to normal.

If you develop several cysts, such as is sometimes the case for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the cysts can sometimes impact fertility and make it more difficult to get pregnant. 

We can’t always determine what type of cyst you have merely by looking at an ultrasound. Some cysts are composed of egg tissue, which produces hair, teeth, and other tissues, and they appear on ultrasound. In either case, we can remove cysts that are causing problems.

Cancerous ovarian cysts

In some instances, certain ovarian cysts turn out to be ovarian cancer. Fortunately, ovarian cancer is uncommon and most cysts are noncancerous. When cancerous ovarian cysts are small, they rarely cause symptoms. As they grow larger it’s common to experience abdominal discomfort and fullness. 

In most cases cancerous cysts look different from harmless cysts when we view them on ultrasound. This is another reason why we recommend removing cysts that grow or look suspicious. 

Rest assured that you’re in good hands if you have any concerns about ovarian cysts. To get the answers and access the care you, get started today by calling our South Charleston, West Virginia, office to make an appointment today. 

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