What Are Ovarian Cysts?
There are different kinds of ovarian cysts and most of them are noncancerous and go away on their own. Some ovarian cysts may require medical treatment or might be a sign of an underlying condition like endometriosis. For this reason our NYC ovarian cyst specialists may want to monitor a cyst by scheduling routine exams or recommend immediate treatment if necessary.
What Are The Causes of Ovarian Cysts?
Ovarian cysts can develop for various reasons, and the specific cause can vary depending on the type of cyst. Ovarian cysts often develop naturally in patients who have monthly periods. They can also affect patients who have been through the menopause.
It’s important to note that in some cases, ovarian cysts can be caused by underlying medical conditions or factors such as hormonal imbalances, certain medications, or prior pelvic infections.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts?
Most often you won’t have symptoms of cysts in your ovaries. It is more common for them to be discovered during a pelvic exam or an annual check. If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms you can discuss them with your ovarian cyst specialist NYC to see if you require further treatment.
It is most likely that you won’t experience any symptoms. It is more common for cysts to be discovered through an ultrasound and to have them go away on their own.
Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
If you are having abdominal pain from ovarian cysts it will likely worsen during your menstrual cycle. When your hormones change, it can cause the cysts to grow, which can lead to pelvic or abdominal pain.
Pain During Sex
If you have endometriosis and a common ovarian cyst called endometrioma, then you may experience pain during sex. Other cysts can also cause pain or discomfort during intercourse depending on the type of cyst, size, and location. If you are experiencing pain during sex and are having difficulties with fertility, you may want to meet with our team of NYC Ob/Gyn doctors to also discuss a fertility plan.
Causes of Ovarian Cysts
You can be more prone to developing ovarian cysts if your hormones are changing. Pregnancy or some prescription medication for fertility can increase your likelihood of developing ovarian cysts.
If you have endometriosis, you are more likely to develop endometrioma, which is a specific type of cyst that can accompany endometriosis.
History of Ovarian Cysts
If you have a previous history of ovarian cysts, it is more likely you will develop them again. This is why we encourage regular annual checkups with your Ob/Gyn ovarian cyst specialists NYC.
What Are The Risk Factors for Developing Ovarian Cysts?
There are several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing ovarian cysts. These risk factors can vary depending on the type of cyst and individual circumstances. Here are some common risk factors associated with ovarian cysts:
- Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal imbalances, such as those seen in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can increase the risk of developing ovarian cysts.
- Age: Ovarian cysts can occur at any age, but they are more common during the reproductive years, especially between the ages of 30 and 60.
- Previous Ovarian Cysts: Having a history of ovarian cysts increases the risk of developing new cysts in the future.
- Endometriosis: Women with endometriosis have an increased risk of developing ovarian cysts, particularly endometriomas or chocolate cysts.
- Infertility: It is unclear whether the cysts contribute to infertility or are a result of underlying factors causing infertility.
- Tamoxifen Use: Tamoxifen is a medication commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer. Women taking tamoxifen may have an increased risk of developing ovarian cysts.
- Family History: There may be a genetic component to the development of ovarian cysts. Women with a family history of ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer may have a higher risk.
It’s important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of developing ovarian cysts, many cysts are benign and resolve on their own without causing symptoms or complications.
How Are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?
Ovarian cysts are often diagnosed through a combination of medical history assessment, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Here are the common methods used to diagnose ovarian cysts:
- Medical History Assessment: Your Viva Eve healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms, their duration and severity, and any relevant medical history.
- Pelvic Examination: During a pelvic examination, your healthcare provider will feel your abdomen and pelvis to check for any abnormalities, such as swelling, tenderness, or masses.
- Imaging Tests:
- Ultrasound: Transvaginal ultrasound is a common imaging test used to visualize the ovaries and detect the presence of ovarian cysts.
- Abdominal or pelvic ultrasound: In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound may be performed, where a device is moved over the abdomen to capture images of the pelvic organs.
- MRI or CT scan: In certain situations, such as when the cyst is complex or there is a suspicion of malignancy, your healthcare provider may order an MRI or CT scan to obtain more detailed images of the ovaries.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests may be conducted to measure certain hormone levels (such as CA-125) or to assess ovarian function.
- Laparoscopy: In some cases, if the cyst is large, persists, or there is a suspicion of malignancy, your healthcare provider may recommend a laparoscopy.
What Are Possible Treatments For Ovarian Cysts?
Before your treatment, our doctors will run some tests or do an ultrasound to determine what kind of cyst you have and which procedure will work best for you.
If the cyst has grown, changed in size, or lasted for too long, there may be a need for an ovarian cystectomy (cyst removal) surgery. In cases where the ovarian cyst reaches a certain size (usually greater than 5 cm), there is a greater chance the cyst could cause the ovary to twist on itself resulting in a condition called ovarian torsion. Ovarian torsion is one of the gynecologic conditions that require emergency surgery to save the ovary. In most cases this can be done without removing the ovary to which the cyst is attached. If the cyst is cancerous, then removal may be necessary (or cancer-specific treatment may be the next step).
The majority of benign ovarian cystectomies can be performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy is minimally invasive and uses a few small incisions on the lower abdomen for the procedure. The goal of a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy is to have minimal blood loss, to perform this surgery in the most efficient way and to preserve ovarian tissue.
Your Ob/Gyn ovarian cyst specialists may prescribe basic hormones, like birth control pills to regulate cysts or to keep them from coming back. This treatment requires no medical procedure and often takes a few short months.
If your cysts are not causing any obvious issues, are not cancerous, and you don’t have any symptoms, your ovarian specialists in NYC may want to schedule a few checkups over the next few months to monitor the cyst and make sure it goes away on its own.
Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Ovarian Cysts?
There are no foolproof preventive measures to completely avoid the development of ovarian cysts, as some cysts are a normal part of the menstrual cycle and can occur spontaneously. However, there are certain steps you can take to potentially reduce the risk or minimize complications associated with ovarian cysts:
Regular Gynecological Check-ups: Routine visits to your gynecologist can help detect any abnormalities, including ovarian cysts, at an early stage and provide appropriate management.
Birth Control Pills: Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can help regulate hormone levels and prevent the formation of certain types of ovarian cysts.
Manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): If you have PCOS, managing the condition through lifestyle modifications may help reduce the risk and severity of ovarian cysts associated with this condition.
Be Aware of Symptoms: Familiarize yourself with the common symptoms of ovarian cysts and if you experience any concerning symptoms, consult your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
What Are The Risks If Ovarian Cysts Are Left Untreated?
If ovarian cysts are left untreated, there can be potential risks and complications depending on the type and characteristics of the cyst. Here are some of the possible risks associated with untreated ovarian cysts:
- Pain and Discomfort: Ovarian cysts can cause pain and discomfort, particularly if they become large or if they rupture or twist (torsion).
- Rupture: Ovarian cysts, especially larger ones, can rupture or burst. Ruptured cysts may lead to internal bleeding, which can be a serious medical emergency and may require immediate medical attention.
- Torsion is a medical emergency that requires immediate intervention to prevent damage to the ovary.
- Infertility: In some cases, ovarian cysts can affect fertility.
- Complications in Pregnancy: In rare cases, ovarian cysts can cause complications during pregnancy.
- Malignancy: While most ovarian cysts are benign, there is a risk of some cysts, particularly cystadenomas, being cancerous or becoming cancerous over time.
It’s important to note that not all ovarian cysts require treatment. Many cysts, particularly functional cysts, will resolve on their own without causing any complications.
Are There Other Related Conditions To Ovarian Cysts?
Medical conditions that can be associated with ovarian cysts or have similar symptoms include:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by enlarged ovaries containing multiple small cysts.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of it.
Ovarian Tumors: While most ovarian cysts are benign, some cysts can potentially become cancerous or may already be cancerous.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): OHSS can occur as a complication of fertility treatments, particularly in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional through physical examination, imaging tests, and other diagnostic procedures is necessary and treatment approaches will vary depending on the diagnosis and individual circumstances.
Recommended Next Steps For Ovarian Cysts
If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cysts or suspect that you may have them, here are some recommended next steps:
Discuss Treatment Options: In many cases, observation and monitoring may be sufficient, especially if the cysts are small and asymptomatic. However, if the cysts are causing significant pain or complications, treatment options may include medication, hormonal therapy, or surgery.
Follow Recommended Monitoring can help ensure any changes or complications are identified promptly.
Manage Symptoms: prescription pain medications or over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate symptoms may be necessary. Heat therapy or relaxation techniques may also provide relief.
Hormonal Birth Control can help regulate hormone levels and prevent the formation of certain types of cysts.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Severe Symptoms as these may indicate a medical emergency.