Cyst can be a scary word, but don’t panic just yet. Many cysts aren’t harmful at all. Find out what cysts are and how they happen.
Ovarian cysts are bubble-like growths in the ovaries — the part of your body that produces and releases eggs. These cysts can be filled with fluid, blood or other stuff.
Most ovarian cysts are common and harmless. Many go away on their own or get smaller within two or three menstrual cycles. Sometimes, if they're large, they may disrupt the normal menstrual cycles, delaying bleeding and causing heavier bleeding than normal.
Just so you know, there are other ovarian cysts that are more serious and need attention. With polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), for instance, "follicle cysts" form in the ovaries and inhibit the release of eggs. When women with PCOS menstruate, they may experience heavy bleeding, too. They even experience higher testosterone levels, which can cause extra hair to grow on their face and chest. Your doctor will probably find this kind of condition during a general check-up.
Most ovarian cysts won't produce symptoms unless they become ruptured or twisted — then you'll feel intense abdominal pain and nausea. Another symptom or sign to watch for is an irregular menstrual cycle. If you're irregular, it might be worth an exam to discover why.How do you get ovarian cysts?
Young and obese women often suffer from PCOS. Otherwise, there isn't really conclusive evidence on how and why women get cysts. But there is some indication that a high-fat diet and large amounts of caffeine contribute to their development and/or growth.How do you treat ovarian cysts?
Any cyst should be checked by a doctor. Even though most ovarian cysts aren't usually cancerous, you shouldn't take the chance. Pelvic exams help doctors to see if you have cysts at all. If, after an exam, your doctor suspects cysts, they may recommend other tests such as:
- Ultrasound — where sound waves are used to obtain a picture of your reproductive organs and the cysts can be identified and measured.
- Laparoscopy — where a lighted tube is inserted into your body so the doctor can see inside.
- Blood test.
There are several ways to treat ovarian cysts:
How can you avoid ovarian cysts?
- Birth control pills help to regulate ovulation and help shrink cysts.
- Dietary changes (like a low-fat diet, and little to no caffeine) sometimes help cysts to shrink.
- Hormone therapy can help.
- Surgery may be required for large cysts. The type of operation depends on where the cyst is found, its size and type and the woman's age.
There's been some evidence that foods high in saturated fat (like fried foods, cheeses and fatty meats) contribute to the development of cysts. Avoiding these foods has been very helpful for some women. Caffeine is a stimulant, and some doctors believe it stimulates the growth of ovarian cysts. Cutting down on coffee and fizzy drinks may help, too. Also, oral contraceptives can prevent the more common functional cysts of ovulation from forming.
Like we said, most cysts are a normal, everyday occurrence. By listening to your body and keeping up with your gynaecological exams, you’ll be a strong, healthy girl!
Have you ever known someone with an ovarian cyst?