Will Ovarian Cysts Resolve Themselves?
If you haven’t been diagnosed with ovarian cysts before by an OBGYN doctor, you may have heard your female friends and family members talk about having them and wonder if you may be affected as well.
The truth is, ovarian cysts are quite common, and many women have this condition at some point in their life. The good news is, ovarian cysts often cause very little or no discomfort, so sometimes, women who get them don’t even know they’ve had them.
What Are Ovarian Cysts?
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs found on or inside a woman’s ovary. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus (or womb), which produce eggs (or ova) during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Most ovarian cysts are functional cysts (discussed below). More rarely though, a woman may develop disease-related cysts caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or ovarian cancer.
How Do Ovarian Cysts Form?
Most ovarian cysts develop from functional cysts that are normally produced to release an egg during a woman’s menstrual cycle. During a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, one of her ovaries produces a fluid-filled sac called a follicle. This follicle contains one of the woman’s eggs. Follicles also release the hormones progesterone and estrogen in women during their monthly cycle.
When a woman ovulates, the follicle ruptures and releases the mature egg into the fallopian tube. From the fallopian tube, the released egg travels to the uterus, where it embeds itself in the lining of the uterus.
If the embedded egg receives a sperm, the woman becomes pregnant. If it does not, the egg is shed with the uterine lining during a woman’s menstrual period.
However, sometimes the follicle does not rupture and release the egg but continues to grow, at which it is a functional cyst.
There are two types of functional cysts: follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts.
A follicular cyst occurs when the normal follicle containing the egg does not rupture and release the egg but continues to grow. A corpus luteum cyst occurs when the follicle does rupture and release the egg, but it retains some of its fluid. The ruptured follicle that is left after releasing the egg is called the corpus luteum.
What Are Ovarian Cyst Symptoms?
Many women experience no symptoms at all from ovarian cysts.
If a woman does develop symptoms from an ovary cyst, the most common symptoms include abdominal bloating, pressure, swelling, and/or lower abdominal pain. The abdominal pain usually occurs in the left or right lower side of the abdomen and can come and go and be dull or sharp. Sudden, severe abdominal pain can occur if an ovarian cyst ruptures.
Nausea and vomiting can also occur along with abdominal pain if the cyst has caused the ovary to become twisted.
Other possible, but less common, ovarian cyst symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Tender breasts
- Dull aching pain in the thighs and low back
- Pain during sex
- Pain during the menstrual period
- Pelvic pain
- Trouble fully emptying the bladder and/or bowels
- Urinating more often
- Weight gain that can’t be explained
When Should I See My OBGYN Doctor?
It’s important to contact your OBGYN doctor or seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following ovarian cyst symptoms:
- Abdominal pain with vomiting and/or fever
- Severe, sudden pelvic or abdominal pain
- Symptoms of shock such as weakness, feeling lightheaded, fast breathing, cool and clammy skin
Will Ovarian Cysts Go Away on Their Own?
Ovarian functional cysts usually resolve on their own without any treatment. However, disease-related cysts may require treatment based on what caused them.
Colorado Obstetrics & Women’s Health
If you’re concerned you might have an ovarian cyst, make an appointment to see one of our Colorado Springs OBGYN doctors. At Colorado Obstetrics & Women's Health, we offer pelvic ultrasound services to identify ovarian cysts. Our team of expert clinicians is here to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. Contact us today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule your appointment.