Most women develop ovarian cysts as a normal part of ovulation without even knowing it, and the cysts typically resolve on their own. For 8% of premenopausal women, however, ovarian cysts can present problems and require medical intervention.
At Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology, our team of gynecologic experts offers expert treatment of problematic ovarian cysts, helping our patients avoid larger issues down the road.
Here’s a look at ovarian cysts and three telltale signs that they might be cause for concern.
A closer look at ovarian cysts
To better understand what we’re dealing with when it comes to ovarian cysts, let’s take a closer look at these mostly benign growths and how they form.
The two most common types of ovarian cysts are follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts.
The primary role of your ovaries is to release an egg each month, which is what creates your menstrual cycle. The egg first develops inside a follicle, and when the egg matures, the follicle breaks open and releases it for fertilization.
If your follicle fails to release the egg, a cyst can form as your follicle continues to grow. In most cases, these types of cysts resolve themselves within a month or two, and you’re largely unaware that there was a problem in the first place.
Corpus luteum cysts
Under normal circumstances, after the follicle releases the egg, the remaining pieces of the follicle form a group of cells called the corpus luteum, which releases hormones to prepare for the next cycle. If your follicle reseals itself, however, fluid can build inside, creating a cyst.
Here again, in most cases these types of cysts go away on their own, and you’re none the wiser. In a small number of cases, the cyst can continue to grow, which can lead to symptoms.
Telltale signs your cyst may be problematic
As we mentioned, most cysts don’t cause any symptoms, so when they do, it’s a sign that we need to take a closer look.
The three most common signs of a problematic cyst include:
1. Pain and discomfort
Any time you develop pain in your pelvic region (outside of menstrual cramping), it’s a clear warning that something isn’t right. In cases where your ovarian cyst continues to grow, it can lead to pain, which can present itself as a dull ache or only come on during certain activities, such as sexual intercourse.
The pain may also present itself in your lower back or upper thighs as a dull ache. Sometimes the cyst doesn’t quite lead to pain, but does cause a feeling of pressure or fullness in your lower abdomen.
2. Irregular urination
If your cyst grows to the point where it presses against your bladder, you may experience frequent urination or the inability to urinate properly.
3. Menstrual issues
If you experience irregular periods, including heavy bleeding, painful periods, or even a lack of menstruation, it may be a sign of problematic cysts. Any time you have issues with your periods, we typically investigate several areas, including whether ovarian cysts are present.
In rare cases, a woman may experience a sudden onset of pain, alongside nausea and vomiting, which is a sign that a cyst may have ruptured or twisted. If you develop any of these symptoms, we urge you to seek medical help right away.
The best way to find out whether cysts are at the root of your problems is to contact our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to set up an appointment.