Cysts on ovaries are abnormal swellings in the ovary which may be either fluid-filled sacs or solid tumors. They are usually benign and require no medical intervention. Most disappear on their own. Ovarian cysts are usually painless and without symptoms and are often discovered as incidental findings during a routine pelvic exam. While little is known about what causes them, women on fertility drugs are more likely to develop cysts. Endometriosis may also cause ovarian cysts.
In the female abdominal cavity, there are two ovaries, one at the end of each Fallopian tube on either side of the uterus. The ovaries produce hormones and an egg each month. Following each menstrual period, a little cyst starts to grow in the ovary. This cyst contains the egg. It continues to grow for the first 2 weeks of the cycle and when it reaches about 2 cm across; it bursts and releases the egg. This cyst is called the follicle and makes the hormone estrogen. The cyst then changes to a more solid structure in the second half of the cycle and is then called a corpus luteum and makes the hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cysts can therefore be normal physiological phenomenon. However, any cyst which does not go away or is bigger than 5 cm may be abnormal and require medical intervention. A cyst may cause dull sort of pain. If it produces hormones it can cause abnormal bleeding. A large cyst may press on the bladder and intestines. At times, the cyst can twist round on itself causing necrosis or may rupture in the abdominal cavity. Both are emergency situations. Very few ovarian cysts are malignant. This is more likely in women over the age of 40 or where the cyst contains areas of solid tissue instead of just fluid. Sometimes, both ovaries develop multiple small cysts at quite an early age. These are called polycystic ovaries.
Some symptoms associated with ovarian cysts are:
- Intense abdominal pain.
- Menstrual changes such as late periods, bleeding between periods or irregular periods.
- Heavy menstrual flow.
- Internal bleeding.
- Severe menstrual cramps.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
- Pain during a bowel movement.
- Weight gain.
Ovarian cysts may have to be removed surgically if they cause discomfort or if they interfere with normal ovarian and reproductive functioning. But benign cysts are best treated with holistic medicine or alternative therapies using modalities such as hormone therapy, stress reduction techniques, acupuncture, dietary modifications, and herbal remedies etc. This method is safe, permanent and effective.