How Serious Are Ovarian Cysts? Everything You Need to Know

A woman sits on her couch and holds her abdomen with a concerned look on her face.

How Serious Are Ovarian Cysts? Everything You Need to Know

Ovarian cysts are very common and often harmless. Most people don’t know they have ovarian cysts until their annual exam, and they often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. However, sometimes these cysts can cause complications, so it is important to consult your doctor whenever you notice any new changes or symptoms.

Let’s take a look at what ovarian cysts are, how serious they can be, and the treatment options available.

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop on one or both ovaries. Cysts can vary in size, ranging from as small as a pea to as big as a granny smith apple. While most cysts that develop on the ovaries are harmless and often go away on their own, some may cause discomfort or lead to complications.

How Do You Get Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts may develop for a few different reasons, but ovulation is the main cause. These cysts are caused by hormonal imbalances when your normal menstrual cycle is disrupted. Also, certain conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) increase the likelihood of developing cysts.

Here are a few factors that increase your risk of developing ovarian cysts:

  • You are pregnant.
  • You haven’t gone through menopause.
  • You’ve had ovarian cysts before.
  • You take ovulation medications.
  • You have a history of hormone problems.
  • You have endometriosis.

What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts?

Most of the time, you won’t experience any symptoms with ovarian cysts, and you won’t even know you have them until your doctor does a routine exam. However, when people do experience symptoms, it’s most likely due to a complication, like a ruptured cyst or twisted ovary.

Here are some symptoms women notice:

  • Bloating or swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
  • Painful intercourse
  • Irregular periods or abnormal bleeding
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Nausea

These symptoms are also related to many other medical issues, so it is essential to visit your doctor to know for sure.

Are Ovarian Cysts Life-Threatening?

In most cases, ovarian cysts are not life-threatening. However, if a cyst ruptures, it may lead to complications like internal bleeding.

Another possible complication arises when a cyst becomes twisted. This is called ovarian torsion and can cut off the blood flow to the ovary.

Also, if you are past menopause and have a cyst, the chances of it being cancerous greatly increase, which can be life-threatening.

Complications are easily avoided by visiting your doctor whenever you notice any changes in your body, including the symptoms listed above. Your doctor can perform ultrasound imaging and other tests to determine if you have cysts and recommend appropriate treatment options.

How Are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?

Many times women visit with symptoms that could be ovarian cysts and discover they are pregnant. So doctors often conduct a pregnancy test in addition to further testing.

The following tests are used to diagnose ovarian cysts:

  • Pelvic exam to feel for lumps or changes in your body
  • Ultrasound to view any possible cysts on your ovaries
  • Laparoscopy, where the doctor inserts a camera through a small incision in your abdomen to view your organs. If any cysts are detected with this method, they can be removed immediately.

Ovarian Cyst Treatment Options

In many cases, cysts on the ovaries go away on their own without the need for treatment. Doctors will often suggest that you wait and see if the cysts resolve on their own before advising any type of treatment. However, depending on the size and appearance or if you have any symptoms, treatment may be necessary.

The treatment used to remove these cysts is a minimally invasive procedure called a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy.

What is a Laparoscopic Ovarian Cystectomy?

Laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy is a type of laparoscopic surgery. This treatment is a minimally invasive surgery where the doctor uses an instrument called a laparoscope, which is a long, slender device. The doctor inserts the device into the abdomen through a small incision. The laparoscope has a camera that allows the doctor to look at your ovaries and other abdominal organs.

If your doctor sees a cyst that needs to be removed, they can use other instruments, inserted through the same incision or a few additional small incisions, to remove them.

Prevent Complications with Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are most often nothing to be worried about. However, sometimes complications do happen, and if you are past menopause, cysts are often cancerous. The important thing to remember is to be aware of changes in your body and contact your doctor when you notice any new or worrying symptoms.

Additionally, you should visit your gynecologist at least once a year for an annual checkup to help prevent complications from cysts and other common issues that are easily treated if caught early.

Visit Sylacauga OBGYN for Regular Checkups and Empathetic Treatment for Ovarian Cysts

If it’s time for an annual exam or if you notice any changes or symptoms, Sylacauga OB-GYN in the Coosa Valley Area has an experienced and caring team of healthcare providers. We specialize in laparoscopic treatment, including Laparoscopic Ovarian Cystectomy, and offer personalized treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

Contact us today online or by calling (256) 510-7163 to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards managing your health with compassion and expertise.