Ovarian cysts are incredibly common for menstruating women. Although they usually do not pose a threat, there are some signs you should look out for that may indicate a more problematic cyst.
What is an Ovarian Cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms in the ovary or on the surface. They usually occur during your menstrual cycle when a follicle grows on the ovary to develop an egg and produce estrogen. If the follicle does not release the egg, the fluid stays inside of the sac and forms a follicular cyst. These follicular cysts can lead to ovarian cysts, but they are not the same type of cysts.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Although most cysts go away on their own, they can cause pain if they get too large and are dangerous if they rupture. To avoid these possibilities, take note if you feel pelvic pain on the lower side of the abdomen near the cyst, feel heaviness in your abdomen, or notice bloating. Other symptoms to look for are as follows:
- Pain during bowel movements
- Pelvic pain shortly before or after the start of a menstrual period
- Pelvic pain during intercourse or other movement
- Constant pelvic pain
You should immediately go to the ER if you have sudden, severe pain with a fever or vomiting. This, coupled with symptoms of shock (cold, clammy skin; lightheadedness; quick breathing) may be a sign that the cyst has twisted or ruptured.
Although an ovarian cyst itself cannot be prevented, regular pelvic exams will keep track of any changes in your ovaries and will allow you to know if you have developed an ovarian cyst. An ultrasound can also be used to detect a cyst and if one is found, you can schedule a follow-up in 6-8 weeks to check that it has gone away. They will usually go away on their own in 8-12 weeks.
Your provider may also schedule a blood test to check your hormone levels or see if you are pregnant. They might also suggest birth control pills to reduce the chances of new cysts developing; contraceptives prevent follicles from growing. Surgery may be needed to remove the cyst if it is causing symptoms, not going away and/or increasing in size. It is also needed more often for women in menopause or close to starting menopause.
Schedule a Consultation
If you think you may have an ovarian cyst or would like to schedule a consultation for a routine checkup, contact Carnegie Women’s Health in New York, New York to meet with one of our expert gynecologists and team members.