Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets in an ovary or on its surface. Women have two ovaries — each about the size and shape of an almond — on each side of the uterus. Eggs (ova), which develop and mature in the ovaries, are released in monthly cycles during the childbearing years.
Dr Solomon Anoti, a Gynaecologist with Mothercare hospital said that most ovarian cysts are not cancerous.
Anoti disclosed this in an interview in Abuja. He explained that ovarian cysts were closed sac-like structures within the ovary filled with a liquid or semisolid substance.
He said that the ovary was one of a pair of reproductive organs in women that were located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. “Each ovary is about the size and shape of a walnut,’’ he said.
According to him, most ovarian cysts are not due to cancer and having an ovarian cyst does not cause ovarian cancer. Anoti said that ovarian cancer was rare in women younger than age 40. “After age 40, an ovarian cyst has a higher chance of being cancerous than before age 40, although most ovarian cysts were still benign even after age 40.
He however said that some ovarian cancers develop cystic areas inside the tumor. “Ovarian cancer is much less common than benign ovarian cysts,’’ he said. He further explained that ovarian cysts may not cause signs or symptoms but larger cysts were likely to cause signs such as pain in the abdomen, pelvis, sometimes radiating to the lower back.
Dr Anoti said that most ovarian cysts were never noticed and resolve without women ever realising that they were there. “If the cyst has reached a large size, other symptoms like low back pain, indigestion, urinary urgency, abdominal fullness among others may arise as a result of pressure or distortion of adjacent anatomical structures.”
Ovarian cysts may develop during pregnancy or at any point in a woman’s life. Some kinds of ovarian cysts are related to the menstrual cycle and occur before a woman has reached menopause. ”Most ovarian cysts in women of childbearing age are follicular or corpus luteum cysts (functional cysts) that disappear naturally in one to three months, although they can rupture and cause pain,” he said.
Anoti said that all women have follicular cysts at some point that generally go unnoticed and therefore urged women to go for routine medical checkup.
Many women have ovarian cysts at some time. Most ovarian cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. The majority disappears without treatment within a few months.
However, ovarian cysts — especially those that have ruptured — can cause serious symptoms. To protect your health, get regular pelvic exams and know the symptoms that can signal a potentially serious problem.
Most cysts don’t cause symptoms and go away on their own. However, a large ovarian cyst can cause pelvic pain — a dull or sharp ache in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst, fullness or heaviness in your abdomen and bloating
“There is no known way to prevent the development of ovarian cysts, however, sometimes a ruptured ovarian cyst can lead to severe pain and internal bleeding.” The pain with a ruptured ovarian cyst typically comes on suddenly and occurs on one side only.
Regular pelvic examinations help ensure that changes in your ovaries are diagnosed as early as possible. Be alert to changes in your monthly cycle, including unusual menstrual symptoms, especially ones that persist for more than a few cycles. Talk to your doctor about changes that concern you.