What are Ovarian Cysts?
The female ovary is an active organ that is constantly working to produce small cysts known as follicles. These follicles or functional cysts are formed each month prior to ovulation and if fertilized result in a pregnancy. Due to this constant activity, ovaries are continually producing the fluid that makes up ovarian cysts. It is very common for these cysts to linger at the end of a cycle and depending on how and where they form can be either harmless or require medical attention.
Are they dangerous?
There are two main types of cysts – Ovarian Cysts and tumours.
Physiological cysts occur when the follicles of ovulation persist, and grow bigger rather than disappearing as they should at the end of a cycle. These cysts may twist (torsion) or haemorrhage (develop a bleed) causing severe pain or even loss of function if untreated.
Ovarian tumours are abnormal growths or cysts that may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Different ovarian tumours are more common at different stages of a woman’s life e.g. dermoid cysts are commonly found in younger women in their early years of menstruation.
It should be noted that while many ovarian tumours may be benign, there are frequently malignant equivalents of these benign tumours therefore; all ovarian tumours should be medically investigated.
How would I know if I have a Cyst?
Some ovarian cysts can be completely symptom free. They are often found incidentally during an ultrasound for another reason, on routine examination or through a pap smear.
Others however, may develop any of the following symptoms:
- Lower abdominal pain especially on one or the other side
- Unexplained weight gain or loss of appetite, change in bowel or bladder habit
- Pain during menstruation or intercourse (especially common with cysts due to endometriosis)
- Menstrual irregularities
- A lump or mass felt abdominally
- Acute pain
What happens next?
Once you are diagnosed with ovarian cysts a gynaecological review will be requested by your GP. To further inspect the cyst a pelvic ultrasound along with some blood tests will be organised. The results of these investigations will determine how best to proceed.
In some cases cysts are treated with the contraceptive pill for a few cycles (months) to see if they will resolve on their own. Other times, surgical removal of the cyst (cystectomy) is advised.
How is the Cyst removed?
At SWEC, we perform almost all ovarian cyst removal via the laparoscope. There is no limitation to laparoscopic surgery based on the size or nature of the cyst apart from malignancy (cancerous nature). The SWEC Surgeons are at the forefront of laparoscopic surgery and can perform this with minimal invasion to your body and recovery time.
What do I do now?
Every woman is individual and her situation requires an individual plan of management. If you think these issues relate to you, call us at SWEC on 1300 498 448 to arrange a personal consultation and discussion of your case