Ovarian cysts may sound troublesome, but the fact is that they’re a normal part of most women’s menstrual cycles. In most cases, you’re blissfully unaware of these fluid-filled sacs, as they quickly resolve themselves. In some cases, however, the cysts can become too numerous or too large, which can lead to reproductive health issues.
As part of our comprehensive services here at Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Dr. Jack Tubbs and our team believe that education plays a valuable role in your reproductive health. Through awareness, you can determine whether your possible cysts may be a problem, allowing us to intervene quickly.
With that goal, here’s a look at what you need to know about ovarian cysts and how unresolved cysts can become problematic.
Ovarian cysts 101
Each month, your ovaries create follicles that release an egg and produce hormones when the time is right. After your egg is released, these follicles typically shrivel up and disappear, but in many cases, a functional cyst can develop.
Functional cysts are divided into two categories: follicular and corpus luteum cysts.
This type of cyst occurs when your follicle fails to release the egg and continues to grow.
Corpus luteum cyst
After the follicle releases the egg, it produces hormones. In this state, the follicle is called a corpus luteum. If the corpus luteum starts to collect fluid, it can turn into a cyst.
The good news is that functional cysts are rarely cause for concern and typically resolve themselves on their own within a month or two.
There are times, however, when these cysts continue to grow and cause symptoms. In serious cases, the cyst can cause your ovary to twist, which is a medical emergency.
Outside of functional cysts, you can also develop other types of ovarian cysts, including:
- Endometriomas, which are caused by endometriosis
- Teratomas, which contain body tissues
- Cystadenomas, which are benign cysts on the outside of your ovaries
It’s important to note that these types of cysts aren’t all that common, but they’re still worth mentioning so you have the complete picture.
Recognizing problematic cysts
If you have ovarian cysts that become too large or too numerous, you may start to develop symptoms, including:
- An ache in your abdomen and/or lower back
- Pain during sex
- Problems with bladder or bowel function
- Abnormal bleeding
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, our first step is to determine whether ovarian cysts are to blame. To do this, we typically turn to ultrasound to get a better look at your ovaries.
If we identify problematic cysts, we choose an approach that takes your comfort level into account.
These approaches may include:
- Close monitoring
- Birth control pills to regulate your hormones
- Surgery to remove the cyst(s)
Of course, we start out conservatively and save surgery as a last resort.
If after reading this, you suspect you have a cyst that’s causing problems, please contact our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to set up a consultation.