If you have ovarian cysts, you’re probably wondering why you have them and where they came from. The truth is, ovarian cysts are a normal part of your menstrual cycle, developing each month when an egg gets released from the follicle.
Sometimes, however, the cysts don’t go away as they should after you ovulate or they develop outside your normal menstrual cycle and cause problematic symptoms. In this case, you might need to seek medical intervention.
At the private practice of Dr. Daniel S. Kushner, MD, in White Plains and Queens, New York, we offer specialized care for women struggling with problematic ovarian cysts. Depending on your needs, treatments range from watchful waiting to surgical removal.
To help you better understand ovarian cysts and where they come from, Dr. Kushner and his team have created this helpful guide. Here’s what you should know.
What causes ovarian cysts?
Each month or so during your reproductive years, one of your ovaries releases an egg. When the egg gets released from the follicle, a functional ovarian cyst forms. This type of cyst isn’t cause for concern, and it goes away on its own.
Sometimes, however, the egg doesn’t get released. This causes a follicular cyst to form. While these usually go away on their own, sometimes they grow too large or they rupture, causing problematic and sometimes serious symptoms.
Some women develop many ovarian cysts at once, a condition, called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). When your ovaries don’t release eggs regularly but instead develop many small, fluid-filled cysts, you have PCOS.
While researchers aren’t sure of the exact cause of problematic ovarian cysts, their presence is highly linked to certain issues, including hormonal imbalances, taking hormone therapy, a history of pelvic infections, undergoing infertility treatments, or having endometriosis.
Researchers also believe having heredity and too much insulin in your bloodstream (insulin resistance) also play a role in the development of ovarian cysts.
How can I tell if I have ovarian cysts?
Most of the time, you won’t know if you have an ovarian cyst. These cysts are a normal part of the female reproductive cycle and aren’t usually identified unless you happen to see a doctor during the part of your cycle in which they appear.
If you have a problematic ovarian cyst, however, you might develop uncomfortable or even painful symptoms. The most common signs of ovarian cysts are:
- Abdominal bloating
- Feeling pressure in your lower abdomen
- Abdominal pain (usually on one side)
- Trouble emptying your bladder
- Pain when moving your bowels
- Irregular vaginal bleeding (e.g., spotting between periods)
- Pain in your lower back or thighs
Ovarian cysts may also cause pain during sex or periods that are more painful than usual. Because many other gynecological conditions trigger similar symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with Dr. Kushner for a proper diagnosis.
Can anything help my ovarian cysts?
Keep in mind that most of the time, ovarian cysts go away on their own without the need for treatment, even when they rupture. If you’re experiencing only mild symptoms, you can typically manage your cysts at home with over-the-counter pain medicine and rest.
If you’re experiencing more intense symptoms, however, it’s important to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. In rare cases, an ovarian cyst may need emergency treatment. Call us immediately if you’re experiencing:
- Pain with fever and vomiting
- Pain with dizziness, weakness, or fainting
- Pain with unexplained, heavy bleeding
- Pain with rapid breathing
Again, most of the time ovarian cysts aren’t a medical emergency. Instead, Dr. Kushner evaluates your ovarian cysts to determine what treatment, if any, is required. Your personalized treatment plan may include:
- Watchful waiting to see if the cyst resolves on its own
- Medications, like hormone-based contraceptives
- Minimally invasive surgery to remove problematic cysts
To learn more about ovarian cysts, where they come from, and what you can do about them, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Kushner at the office nearest you.