After college, one of my girlfriends suffered a ruptured ovarian cyst and had to have one of her ovaries removed in surgery. She was heartbroken because she thought her odds of having children were diminished.
There is a happy ending to her story though. She went on to have three healthy children more than eight years later.
While her ovarian cyst situation is extreme, most ovarian cysts present no symptoms neither do they require surgery. Ovarian cysts are typically very small and do not cause health symptoms.
Most women who ovulate will develop an ovarian cyst of some kind during their lifetime and it usually doesn’t result in a medical issue.
"About 8% of premenopausal women develop large cysts that need treatment," according to Womans Health.gov.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac which forms on or in the ovaries. It develops when a follicle grows into a cyst. Most of the time the cyst will go away on its own. This process usually takes a few months.
"During the process of ovulating, people will have ovarian cysts develop, and they’re usually asymptomatic," said Wendy Chang, MD at the Southern California Reproductive Center in an article in Refinery 29. "But when they get larger and rupture, that’s when people will feel them."
Chang said, "The first sign is usually pain on the side that the ovarian cyst is on."
Symptoms of multiple cysts or an enlarged cyst include the following:
• Pain in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst
• Sharp or dull pain which may come and go
• Pelvic pain or pressure
• Unusual (abnormal) vaginal bleeding
• Needing to urinate frequently
• Bloating or swelling
Less common symptoms of cysts include:
• Dull ache in the lower back and thighs
• Problems emptying the bladder or bowel completely
• Pain during sex
• Unexplained weight gain
• Pain during your period
• Breast tenderness
See your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.
Your doctor will conduct an ultrasound to determine the location, size, shape and type of mass (fluid-filled, solid, or mixed) of the cyst.
Chang said there is also an endometrioma or chocolate cyst caused by endometriosis. These endometriomas are called chocolate cysts because the fluid in the cysts makes them appear darker in color.
Cysts are a normal part of ovulation, however if you experience pain during or around ovulation, contact your medical professional.
The cause of a ruptured cyst is usually unknown, but can occur during intercourse or a heavy workout.
Chang said, "Sometimes women have to go to the emergency room — especially if they experience heavy bleeding symptoms, like lightheadedness or vomiting. And a small percentage of women will require surgery to drain out the fluid and stop the bleeding."
Reviewed May 2, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
"EPublications." Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ovarian Cysts. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
“Ovarian Cysts.” Refinery29. Web. 29 April 2016.