What are Ovarian Cysts?
Each month, one of your ovaries releases an egg. At this time, ovarian cysts, which are sacs filled with fluid or solid material that form in or on your ovaries, develop. Most ovarian cysts don't cause harm or produce symptoms. There are two common types of cysts:
- Follicular Cysts: Each month during your regular menstrual cycle, one of your ovaries releases an egg which grows inside a tiny sac called a follicle. When the egg reaches maturity, the follicle should break open to release the egg. Follicular cysts form when the follicle fails to break open to release the egg, causing the follicle to continue to grow and develop a symptomless cyst that goes away within three months.
- Corpus Luteum Cysts: Once the follicle breaks open and an egg is released, the empty follicle sac should shrink into a cell mass called corpus luteum, allowing your body to prepare for your next menstrual cycle. Corpus luteum cysts form if the sac fails to shrink and instead reseals itself after the egg is released. Fluid then builds up inside. If the cyst doesn’t go away after a few weeks, bleeding and pain often result.
How are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?
The doctors at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare often detect ovarian cysts during routine pelvic examinations. If your doctor notices swelling on one of your ovaries, they order an ultrasound test as confirmation.
An ultrasound test is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a picture of your internal organs and help determine the size, shape, and location of your cyst, as well as whether it’s solid or fluid filled.
How are Ovarian Cysts Treated?
Treatment prescribed by your doctor at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare depends on your age and symptoms, as well as the type and size of your cyst. The most common approaches include:
- Watchful Waiting: Watchful waiting is the most common option, especially if you have no symptoms and an ultrasound shows that you have a simple, small, fluid-filled cyst. Follow-up ultrasounds at specific intervals help your doctor monitor cyst changes.
- Medication: While hormonal contraceptives, like birth control pills, help keep your ovarian cysts from recurring, they won't shrink an existing cyst.
- Surgery: Surgery helps with large cysts that continue to grow through two or three menstrual cycles, don't look like functional cysts, and cause you pain.
If you’re experiencing ovarian cysts with pressure, bloating, swelling, or pain in your lower abdomen, call or make an appointment online today at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.