Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid that can develop in the ovary. Such cysts of the ovaries can occur commonly in women of all ages. These ovarian cysts can sometimes cause pain or a “pressure” sensation, but many women may have cysts that do not cause any symptoms, and may not be aware that they have ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts may be discovered incidentally when women undergo an ultrasound for heavy periods, whilst other women discover their ovarian cysts during ultrasound scan done for abdominal swelling/bloating or pelvic pain. Some ovarian cysts can resolve over time, and may not cause any problems or need any treatment. Other ovarian cysts can persist or grow, and cause problems as they grow bigger, or when they rupture or burst.
Rupture or Bursting of ovarian cysts can often cause a sudden onset of severe excruciating pain. The pain may linger on for a few days after the cyst rupture, until the fluid has been reabsorbed by the body. Sometimes surgery with laparoscopy is required if the pain is severe or worsening. Prompt assessment by a gynaecologist is recommended.
Quite often, ovarian cysts do not need to be removed surgically, and can just be monitored with ultrasound scans. Fortunately most ovarian cysts are benign and are not caused by cancer, but it is important to have a thorough assessment by a gynaecologist to establish a diagnosis.
Ovarian cysts can vary in size, and can range from small cysts less than 1cm, up to massive ovarian cysts greater than 10cm.
Ovarian cysts do not usually cause irregularities in menstruation, apart from some uncommon forms of hormone secreting ovarian tumours. A consultation with a gynaecologist is important to ensure there are no co-existing abnormalities of the uterus.
Ovulation (Functional) Haemorrhagic Cysts
Severe Pelvic Infections
Non-cancerous ovarian growths
Ovarian Cancer – Germ Cell Tumours
In post-menopausal women, ovarian cysts are more likely to be caused by cancer than in pre-menopausal women, and a detailed assessment by your gynaecologist is essential.
Risk factors for Ovarian Cancer include:
Ovarian cysts may not cause any symptoms or problems, especially when they are small.
Some women may experience pain or pressure, and this is usually felt on the side of the body where the ovarian cyst is found. Some women may feel a bloating sensation, or just a sensation of “fullness” in the abdomen. The pain experienced by each woman varies, with some women describing a dull pain, whilst others may describe a sharp stabbing pain. The pain may be constant, or it may be intermittent, with some women experiencing the pain “in waves”. The pain may also be felt during sexual intercourse. If the ovarian cyst ruptures, a sharp sudden severe pain may be felt.
Because the ovarian cyst makes the ovary bulkier and heavier than it normally is, this can make the ovary prone to twisting on the stalk to which it is attached to the pelvis. This twisting of the ovary is known as “ovarian torsion”. It can cause excruciating pain, and may be associated with significant nausea and vomiting. If ovarian torsion is suspected, an urgent laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) may be required to “untwist” the ovary, before the blood supply to the ovary becomes compromised for too long and the ovarian tissue becomes non-viable.
Brisbane Gynaecologist Dr Ken Law specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of women with ovarian cysts. To discuss your specific condition and to have a thorough assessment of your ovarian cysts by a Brisbane Ovarian Cyst Specialist, contact Dr Ken Law to arrange a consultation at Greenslopes Obstetrics and Gynaecology.