Who are At Risk for of Ovarian Cysts?

The most challenging area of patient care for a doctor is presented by cysts that occur between two extremes in the reproductive life of women — puberty and menopause.

A cyst found in a young girl prior to menstruation stage is alarming and could possibly be malignant 50 percent of the time. In a post-menopausal woman, an ovarian cyst may most likely be malignant. In both of these age groups, diagnostic surgery is necessary to make an absolute identification. This can be done by either diagnostic laparoscopy or diagnostic laparotomy to examine the ovary. A sonogram can help in the diagnosis.

In the 20s age group, while cancer is a remote possibility, the most common cyst found is the nonmalignant follicular cyst. This cyst occurs when the normal follicle or sac that natured to release an egg does not shrink after release of the egg. It is soft, has a thin membrane wall and contains clear fluid. Usually, it spontaneously disappears over the course of one or more menstrual cycles.

However, if the cyst ruptures, it can cause severe pain for several days. A doctor will usually treat the condition by prescribing a mild pain medication. Depending on the size of the cyst, it can just be observed or treated with birth control pills for two or three months.

Another cause of cysts is endometriosis. This is a disease in which tissue normally found in the uterus implants itself outside the uterus, causing complex ovarian cysts, commonly called chocolate cysts. Up to 60% of women with endometriosis do not have symptoms of this disease, such as chronic pelvic pain, severe menstrual cramps, pain during sex, increasing fatigue, painful bowel movements or painful urination, low resistance to infections, or extensive allergies. A routine pelvic exam is often the first indication of the disease. The most important thing a woman who has an ovarian cyst can do is to follow the doctor’s advice and return for reexamination when requested.

© 2/20/2011 by Athena Goodlight on Healthmad