Ovarian cysts might sound alarming, but in most cases they’re pretty harmless. In fact – most women in their life have an ovarian cyst without even realising it. That because the cyst will often go away by itself, without any pain or symptoms.

However, if you think you might be suffering from a cyst, it’s important to get the facts – and to see a doctor. Here is some of the must-have information about ovarian cysts.

  • What is an ovarian cyst?

A cyst is simply a pocket of fluid that develops on or inside one of your ovaries. The most common types are called ‘functional cysts’ – so-called because they occur as a result of the menstrual cycle. Normally, your two ovaries grow and release eggs and hormones every month. The egg is released via a sac which grows on the ovary. A cyst occurs when there’s a disruption to this pattern. A follicular cyst develops when the egg isn’t released, and fluid starts to accumulate. A corpus luteum cyst begins whenthe egg is released, but fluid becomes trapped in the follicle afterwards. These kinds of cysts usually go away of their own accord within several months or cycles. In the meantime, you might experience slight pain or discomfort, which is best dealt with by a hot water bottle and pain relief – though it’s most likely that you won’t have any symptoms at all.

  • When are cysts a problem?
The bigger the cyst grows, then the more likely you are to become aware of it. It may be uncomfortable or painful if it starts to move the ovary out of its normal place. A large cyst might press on the bladder, affecting urination and with the need to ‘go’ more often. You may have pain in the pelvic area - either before or after your period, during intercourse, during bowel movements, or at other times. You might also experience feelings of sickness or breast tenderness, or a heavy feeling in your abdominal area. Vaginal bleeding can also happen, as can a delayed start to your period.
  • Is a cyst dangerous?
In rare situations, the cyst may continue to grow, and then may twist or even rupture. If the ovary is moved, it can twist also (called ovarian torsion). Both of these situations are actually very dangerous, as it may cause bleeding. If your symptoms ever worsen or include very bad pain, fever, and/or vomiting, then you should see a doctor or go to the hospital urgently. It is also possible for cysts to be cancerous, particularly if they develop after the menopause.
  • Other types of cyst
There are rare types of cyst that can cause more serious problems. These cysts grow from tissue rather than fluid. Dermoid cysts can contain skin, hair or bone, and if they grow large enough they can twist the ovary. Though these cysts can also be cancerous, thankfully it’s rare, with around 98% being benign. A dermoid cyst will usually be removed by laparoscopy – a surgical procedure using small incisions only. Another rare type of cyst are cystadenomas – filled with water or mucus, these tend to happen later in life (between the ages of 40 and 50 years) and have a small chance of becoming cancerous. Depending on the cyst, these may require part or all of the ovary to be removed, though only in serious cases. Finally, endometrioma cysts grow from uterine endometrial tissue. This is part of a condition called endometriosis, where endometrial cells grow outside the uterus. The cyst contains thick brown fluid which gives it the name of a ‘chocolate cyst’. These cysts are also benign, though they do need to be removed – usually by a laparoscopy.
  • Is it genetic?
Sadly, research has shown that this is likely. Women suffering from cyst problems have been shown to have a different genetic make-up to those without. However, diet and lifestyle are very important in managing the risk, whether genetic or not. Getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and a low sugar intake will all help your body look after itself and avoid the likelihood of a cyst forming, or becoming worse.
  • Visiting the gynaecologist
If you have the symptoms of an ovarian cyst then it’s important to seek out the best gynaecologist in Dubai. Before your appointment, note down your symptoms and any questions you may have. The doctor will ask about your symptoms – how long you have had them for, what they are like, and when you have them. They will likely perform a pelvic exam, to ascertain how large and what kind of cyst it is. You might also need an ultrasound, a blood test, or a pregnancy test to help determine its type.
  • Treatment
This depends on the type of cyst you have, how large it is, and how old you are. The best gynaecologist in Dubai will probably prefer to wait it out and see if the cyst goes away by itself. However, if the cyst is large, or causing pain or any other symptoms, action may be required. Surgery to remove the cyst – a cystectomy - will normally mean alaparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure using a special tool, or conventional surgery. Both options are performed under general anaesthetic. If the cyst is more advanced, then your gynaecologist in Dubai may recommend an oophorectomy which involves removing the ovary. Whatever your form of treatment, you may need to take birth control pills to avoid cysts developing in the future. This also reduces the chances of developing ovarian cancer. In the rare situation that the cyst is cancerous, a hysterectomy may be advised – where the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed. If you think you may be suffering from an ovarian cyst, make an appointment with your doctor and set your mind at rest.

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