An ovarian cyst consists of a collection of fluid in a thin-walled sac-like structure that develops on or within the ovary. Most of the ovarian cysts are harmless and benign and do not require any treatment. Sometimes, these cysts may disappear after a few menstrual cycles. However, in some cases, they may cause pain due to rupture and bleeding. Some cysts may grow or contain cancerous cells or block the blood supply to the ovaries. Such conditions require treatment.
In most cases, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms and are diagnosed accidentally during routine check ups. The symptoms are so generic that it is difficult to differentiate it from the symptoms of certain other medical conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy and ovarian cancer. It is always better to consult a gynecologist, if you experience symptoms like pelvic pain radiating to the lower back and thighs, pain during intercourse, irregular menstruation, breast tenderness, nausea or vomiting, heaviness of the abdomen and pressure on rectum and bladder. If the pain is very severe or if it is accompanied with fever and vomiting, immediate medical attention is needed.
Treatment for ovarian cysts depends on various factors and may vary from one person to another. The mode of treatment is determined on the basis of the age of the person, nature and severity of the symptoms and size of the cyst. Such treatment includes use of birth control pills and surgery. Sometimes the doctor may prefer to wait and watch, before deciding the course of treatment.
- If you are a woman of childbearing age with an ovarian cyst filled with water and you are not experiencing any symptoms, then your doctor may adopt the 'wait and watch' policy. He may recommend regular and periodic checkups and ultrasound to monitor the size and nature of the cyst. This is the common method of dealing with ovarian cysts, which have a diameter of less than 2 centimeters, as seen in the first ultrasound.
- Birth control pills are recommended to cut down the risk of developing more cysts and also to reduce the chances of ovarian cancer.
- Removal of the cyst through surgery is another method of treatment. Surgery is suggested by the doctor in the case of large ovarian cysts, or if it causes pain and other symptoms, or if it is growing in size. Surgery includes procedures like cystectomy or oophorectomy. Cystectomy involves removal of the cyst and not the ovary, whereas oophorectomy denotes the removal of the affected ovary or ovaries. If the cyst is found to be cancerous, then the removal of both ovaries and the uterus is suggested. Usually, the risk of cancerous cysts develop in post menopausal women.
Apart from these treatments, pain relievers like ibuprofen may help in reducing the pelvic pain. Some people use chamomile tea for relief from pelvic pain. Constipation may increase the discomfort caused by the cysts, so it is better to avoid foods that can cause constipation. A change in the diet is also helpful in the treatment of ovarian cysts. You can include foods rich in vitamin A and carotenoids and vitamin B and eliminate caffeine, alcohol and sugars in your diet. Avoid arduous exercise or work, which may cause rupture of the cysts.
It is always advisable to follow a healthy lifestyle and to consult a doctor, if you experience any symptoms of ovarian cysts. Routine checkups are also good for detection of such cysts and for monitoring the growth of new ones.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.