The ovaries are located in the pelvis and contain a mass of small immature eggs called follicles.
During the reproductive years several follicles ripen each month but usually only one ovulates off or leaves the ovary to pass down the tubes to the womb.
Cysts can form on the ovary for a number of various reasons.
The common symptoms and signs of ovarian cysts are:
- A lump in the lower abdomen
- Pain on one or other side in the lower abdomen
- Painful periods
- Menstrual disturbances
- Painful intercourse
The following are some examples of different types of ovarian cysts.
SIMPLE FOLLICULAR CYSTS AND CORPUS LUTEAL CYSTS
These can arise if ovulation does not occur properly because of hormonal changes. They can grow to about 5cm in diameter but can be painful.
They are not cancerous and often resolve or disappear on their own. If they cause pain they are usually removed by the laparoscope (telescope) during surgery.
These grow from tissue in the ovary and are common in young women. They may contain tissue remnants such as fat, hair and teeth and are usually removed.
These develop from little spots of menstrual blood on the ovary and can be big, and cause pain each month. They can also cause adhesions and infertility. They are often part of widespread endometriosis in other parts of the pelvis and they need to be removed usually via the laparoscope at surgery.
SEROUS and MUCINOUS CYSTADENOMAS
These grow from the ovary and are filled with yellow fluid or sticky mucin. They are not usually painful but can grow to a large size. They may twist or bleed and then become painful. They need to be removed and checked by the pathologist as a small number may become cancerous.
These are large pale ovaries filled with lots of little unruptured eggs. This causes scanty periods and is part of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which has other features such as weight gain, hairiness, acne and sub fertility. This condition is usually treated with drugs.
If you have been told that you have an ovarian cyst it may need to be followed up to check if it is growing.
Ultrasound scans are very useful to monitor a cyst. If it is painful it will need to be removed by surgery.
Ovarian cysts are common and do not usually become malignant but need to be diagnosed and removed if it is causing pain or getting bigger.
Please call us at the Wellington Women’s Clinic for further advice and help. We are a private gynaecological clinic situated at 4 Wellington Road, London NW8 9SP. Please phone 020 7722 8328 for an appointment with our gynaecologist.