Women’s Health: Ovarian Cysts (types, symptoms, prevention)

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Most women will experience a cyst on the ovaries at least once, and most are painless, cause no symptoms, and are discovered during a routine pelvic exam.  Symptoms of an ovarian cyst include nausea, vomiting, bloating, painful bowel movements, and pain during sex. In rare cases, an ovarian cyst can cause serious problems, so it’s best to have it checked by your doctor.  Severe symptoms of an ovarian cyst that require immediate medical attention include: severe or sharp pelvic pain, fever, faintness or dizziness and rapid breathing.

Types of Ovarian Cysts




There are various types of ovarian cysts, such as dermoid cysts and endometrioma cysts. However, functional cysts are the most common type. The two types of functional cysts include follicle and corpus luteum cysts.




Follicle Cyst

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, an egg grows in a sac called a follicle. This sac is located inside the ovaries. In most cases, this follicle or sac breaks open and releases an egg. But if the follicle doesn’t break open, the fluid inside the follicle can form a cyst on the ovary.

Corpus Luteum Cysts

Follicle sacs typically dissolve after releasing an egg. But if the sac doesn’t dissolve and the opening of the follicle seals, additional fluid can develop inside the sac and this accumulation of fluid causes a corpus luteum cyst.

Other types of ovarian cysts include:

  • dermoid cysts: sac-like growths on the ovaries that can contain hair, fat, and other tissue
  • cystadenomas: non-cancerous growths that can develop on the outer surface of the ovaries
  • endometriomas: tissues that normally grow inside the uterus can develop outside the uterus and attach to the ovaries, resulting in a cyst

Some women develop a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition means the ovaries contain a large number of small cysts. It can cause the ovaries to enlarge, and if left untreated, polycystic ovaries can cause infertility.





Ovarian cysts can’t be prevented. However, routine gynecologic examinations can detect ovarian cysts early. Benign ovarian cysts don’t become cancerous. However, symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic symptoms of an ovarian cyst. Thus, it’s important to visit your doctor and receive a correct diagnosis. Alert your doctor to symptoms that may indicate a problem, such as:

    • changes in your menstrual cycle
    • ongoing pelvic pain
    • loss of appetite
    • unexplained weight loss
    • abdominal fullness




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