Ovarian cysts are common and most women will have at least one during their life. In most cases they do not display any symptoms and are discovered only during routine physical exams and ultrasounds. In most cases, it is nothing to worry about but in rare cases it can lead to complications and hence it is best to get an ovarian cysts checked out by a doctor.
Ovarian cysts usually affect women in their child bearing years. They can be described as fluid-filled sacs that develop in either of the ovaries. In an ultrasound image, these can look like small bubbles. Problems usually arise when these cysts grow larger or rupture.
In such cases, you may experience symptoms that include:
If the doctor suspects ovarian cysts, an ultrasound is usually used to confirm the diagnosis. A pelvic ultrasound or a sonograph as it is also known is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the body’s internal structure. In some cases, an endovaginal ultrasound may also be required. This involves inserting a covered wand or probe into the vagina through which a clearer image of the ovaries can be seen.
If the cyst does not trigger any of the above symptoms, it usually does not require treatment. Instead a pelvic ultrasound may be scheduled after a month to check on the size of the cyst. In most cases, these cysts resolve themselves within a month or two. In the case of larger cysts, a biopsy may be required to rule out the chances of the cysts being cancerous. Birth control pills may be prescribed to address the pain associated with this condition. These pills are also used to stop ovulation and reduce the risk of developing further cysts.
Surgery is considered only if the cyst grows in size or continues to pain. In such cases, surgery can be of two kinds: laparoscopy or laparotomy. Laparoscopy involves the removal of cysts through a telescope like an instrument that is inserted through a small incision made in the abdomen. This is usually used to remove small cysts. Larger cysts and ovarian tumours are treated with a laparotomy. This involves making a bigger incision in the stomach and may also involve the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus depending on the tumour.
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder in women, in which the female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are imbalanced. This imbalance leads to the formation of cysts (benign masses) in the ovaries. PCOS tends to affect your heart functions, fertility, menstrual cycle and appearance.
PCOS is a complex condition because it is not entirely clear why some women have such high androgen levels. What is clear is that many women with PCOS also have issues relating to obesity, insulin resistance (a condition where insulin is not effective in lowering blood sugars) and diabetes.
The complexity of PCOS is compounded by the fact that some women with PCOS do not have visible cysts on their ovaries, and some women with cysts in their ovaries do necessarily have PCOS.
How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?
If you’re living with PCOS, the excessive male hormones that your body is creating can interfere with the production of the female hormones that your body needs in order to ovulate. Because your body is not ovulating, progesterone (the hormone that causes the lining of the uterus to thicken) is not being produced. This results in an absence of periods or irregular menstruation. When there is a lack of ovulation and menstruation, conception just isn’t possible.
There are certain symptoms, which can be indicative of PCOS; these symptoms tend to begin as a woman's menstrual cycle starts. In certain cases, however, PCOS may also affect a woman in her mid age. PCOS can also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted places like above the upper lip, chin, arms and chest like a male.
The symptoms are:
Other symptoms: Apart from these symptoms, a woman may also experience other health complications such as high levels of bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Causes: The causes of PCOS are not well known, however, the likely causes are genetics and hormonal complications. If someone in the family has PCOS, then the risk of being affected by PCOS rises significantly. The other likely cause is the overproduction of the male hormone androgen in the female body. Although androgen is a male hormone, the female body also produces it in trace amounts. However, in some cases, when it is overproduced, it might impair the ovulation process.
Diagnosis and Treatment: Once the condition is diagnosed, there are certain treatments, which are recommended for the patient. The condition in itself does not have a cure, but the symptoms can only be controlled.
There are a number of options available, depending on the main issue you are experiencing.