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Affiliate Manager of End Ovarian Cysts™
What Is An Ovarian Cyst? What Causes Ovarian Cysts?
An ovarian cyst is an accumulation of fluid within an ovary that is surrounded by a very thin wall. Any ovarian follicle that is larger than approximately two centimeters is an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts can range widely in size; from being as small as a pea to larger than an orange - in rare cases ovarian cysts can become so large that the woman looks pregnant.
The majority of ovarian cysts are benign (harmless). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, most premenopausal women and up to 14.8% of postmenopausal women are found to have ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts typically occur most frequently during a female's reproductive years (childbearing years). However, ovarian cysts may affect a woman of any age. In some cases, ovarian cysts cause pain and bleeding. If the cyst is over 5 centimeters in diameter it may need to be surgically removed.
There are two main types of ovarian cysts:
What is a cyst?
A cyst is a closed sac-like structure - an abnormal pocket of fluid, similar to a blister - that contains either liquid, gaseous, or semi-solid material. A cyst is located within a tissue, and can develop anywhere in the body and may vary in size - some are so tiny they can only be observed through a microscope, while others may become so large that they displace normal organs.
In anatomy, a cyst can also refer to any normal bag or sac in the body, such as the bladder. In this text, cyst refers to an abnormal sac or pocket in the body that contains either liquid, gaseous or semi-solid substances.
A cyst is not a normal part of the tissue where it is located. It has a distinct membrane and division on nearby tissue - the outer or capsular portion of a cyst is called the cyst wall. If the sac is filled with pus it is not a cyst, it is an abscess. Some cysts are solid and may be called tumors (pathological cysts). The word tumor does not necessarily mean it is cancerous - a tumor is a medical term for a swelling.
According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary:
An ovarian cyst is "a cystic tumor of the ovary, either nonneoplastic (follicle, lutein, germinal inclusion, or endometrial) or neoplastic; usually restricted to benign cysts, mucinous serous cystadenoma, or dermoid cysts."
What are the signs and symptoms of an ovarian cyst?
A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor detect. For example, pain may be a symptom while a rash may be a sign.
In the vast majority of cases, ovarian cysts are small and benign (harmless); there will be no signs or symptoms.
Even if there are symptoms, they alone cannot determine whether a patient has an ovarian cyst. There are several other conditions with similar signs and symptoms, including endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy or ovarian cancer. A ruptured ovarian cyst may present similar signs and symptoms to those of appendicitis or diverticulitis.
The signs and symptoms of an ovarian cyst may include:
Complicated cyst signs and symptoms
Torsion - the stem of an ovary can become twisted if the cyst is growing on the stem, blocking the blood supply to the cyst and causing severe pain in the lower abdomen.
Bursting - if the ovarian cyst bursts the patient will experience severe pain in the lower abdomen. If the cyst is infected pain will be worse. There may also be bleeding.
Cancer - in rarer cases an ovarian cyst may be an early form of ovarian cancer.
What are the causes of ovarian cysts?
Functional ovarian cysts - there are six types:
The following conditions may increase the risk of developing ovarian cysts:
Endometriosis - a condition in which cells that are normally found inside the uterus (endometrial cells) are found growing outside of the uterus. That is, the lining of the inside of the uterus is found outside of it. Endometrial cells are the cells that shed every month during menstruation, and so endometriosis is most likely to affect women during their childbearing years. Women with this condition have a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - in this condition many small and harmless cysts develop on the ovaries, caused by a problem with hormone balance produced by the ovaries. People with PCOS have a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts.