menstrual cycle

All You Need to Know About Ovarian Cysts

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Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs inside ovaries that can be functional or pathological. Delayed period and cramps are among its symptoms. Find out the causes, symptoms and types of ovarian cysts. Drinking ginger tea, eating healthy food and doing exercises are natural tips to reduce ovarian cysts.

Ovaries are part of the female reproductive system and are located in the lower abdomen on both sides of the uterus. Women have two ovaries that produce eggs as well as hormones called as progesterone and estrogen. Sometimes, a fluid-filled sac called a cyst develops on one of the ovaries. This is called an ovarian cyst and many women are likely to develop at least one cyst during their lifetime. Usually, cysts are painless and cause no symptoms. Ovarian cysts are usually formed during ovulation. However, ovarian cysts, especially those, that have ruptured can cause serious complications.

In this article, we will look at:

Symptoms Of Ovarian Cysts

Usually, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms. However, symptoms can appear as a cyst grows. Symptoms may include any one (or more) of the following:

  • A dull aching pain within the abdomen or pelvis, especially during intercourse.
  • Pain during or shortly after beginning or end of a menstrual period, irregular periods, or abnormal uterine bleeding or spotting.

symptoms of ovarian cyst

  • Fullness, bloating, heaviness, pressure or swelling in the abdomen.
  • If a cyst ruptures from the ovary, there may be sudden and sharp pain on one side of the lower abdomen.
  • Change in frequency, ease of urination (such as inability to fully empty the bladder), or difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular, delayed and painful periods

Other symptoms may include:

  • In case of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), symptoms may include increased facial hair or body hair, acne, obesity and infertility.
  • If the cause is endometriosis, then periods may be heavy and painful.

Pain or pressure on the abdomen can be caused by a number of factors such as increasing size, bleeding, or bursting of a cyst, which irritates the abdominal tissues. Pain can also be caused when a cyst is twisted (torsion), which can block the flow of blood to the cyst. If any of these symptoms occur, notify your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Causes Ovarian Cysts

In females, ovaries produce an egg each month. During the process of ovulation, a cyst-like structure (follicle) is formed inside an ovary. When an egg is released during ovulation, the mature follicle ruptures. A corpus luteum forms from the empty follicle and, if pregnancy is not successful, the corpus luteum dissolves. Sometimes, this process does not conclude appropriately, thereby causing the most common type of ovarian cyst known as functional ovarian cysts. Abnormal ovarian cysts, such as polycystic ovarian disease, can occur when there is an imbalance of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).

Different Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are different types of ovarian cysts, which can be categorized as either:

1. Functional cysts

Functional ovarian cysts are associated with menstrual cycle. They affect mostly those women who have had delayed or irregular periods. Each month, a woman's ovaries release an egg, which travels down the fallopian tubes into the womb (uterus), where it can be fertilized by a man's sperm. Each egg forms in a structure known as a follicle inside the ovary. The follicle contains fluid that protects the egg as it grows and bursts when the egg is released. Sometimes a follicle does not release an egg, or it does not discharge its fluid and shrinks after the egg is released. When this happens, the follicle can swell and become a cyst. Functional cysts are non cancerous or benign and are usually harmless, although they can sometimes cause symptoms such as pelvic pain. Most of the functional cysts disappear in a few months without any treatment.

functional cysts

2. Pathological cysts

Pathological cysts are not linked to menstrual cycle and are mainly caused by abnormal cell growth. Pathological cysts can develop before and after menopause. These cysts develop from either the cells used to create eggs or the cells that cover the outer part of the ovary. These cysts can block the blood supply to the ovaries after growing very large and burst. Pathological cysts are also non-cancerous, but a small number of them are cancerous (malignant) which can be removed surgically.

Ovarian cysts are common, harmless and disappear after sometime. Even when they persist, safe treatment is available and can prevent cysts from causing serious harm. Home treatment for ovarian cysts will not make the cysts go away but can ease pain or discomfort if present. Women should be watchful of any changes in symptoms and should never ignore severe pelvic pain.

Natural Tips to Reduce Ovarian Cysts

Unless a cyst is very large or growing rapidly, a doctor will usually advise watchful waiting to see if it goes away without treatment. A doctor may perform several ultrasounds to monitor the cyst and ensure it disappears or does not grow larger. Home treatment cannot make the cyst disappear but it can reduce any symptoms and manage pain especially during periods. Some of the most effective tips to reduce ovarian cysts naturally are as follows:

  • Over-the-counter medication can provide relief from pain and discomfort. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can treat the pain caused by ovarian cysts, as well as period cramps.
  • A gentle massage twice a week can relieve pain in the muscles caused due to period cramps. Massaging the lower back, thighs, stomach and buttocks can help loosen tense muscles and reduce pain.
  • Exercise and stretching on alternate days can also help ease pain and muscle tension linked to ovarian cysts. Some women get relief from intense exercise such as running, while others prefer yoga or gentle stretching. Exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy body weight especially for women with PCOS. Even if there is no weight loss, exercise may reduce pain by strengthening the muscles. 
  • A low-carb diet may help reduce the symptoms of ovarian cysts. Many women with PCOS are insulin resistant; this can lead to diabetes, weight gain and make pregnancy more difficult. Making dietary changes can tackle all these problems. What you eat can affect cyst development. About fifty percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Instead of filling up on processed carbohydrates, try adding foods that fight insulin resistance and help regulate weight. Healthy options include high-fiber foods, broccoli, greens leafy vegetables, berries, lean proteins, including fish, tofu, and chicken.
  • Using heat therapy is another option that can help ease cyst pain and menstrual cramping. Applying a hot water bottle or heating pad to lower abdomen may even be as effective as using OTC drugs.
  • Almonds boast high levels of magnesium, which may help with cramps and discomfort. Raw almonds contain around 270 milligrams of magnesium per 100-gram serving. Supplementing diet with magnesium has been shown to help reduce chronic pain. Almonds can make a good snack when eaten plain and taste great when sprinkled over a salad.
  • Ginger tea is also known to reduce inflammation, cramping and relieve pain. Ginger tea has both antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties. In one study, ginger has been found to treat and prevent ovarian cancer. All you have to do is steep a bag in boiling water for a few minutes, add a squeeze of lemon and enjoy.
  • Consider maca root supplements to balance hormones. Maca root has been linked to regulate hormone levels and help women who are peri or postmenopausal. Maca root can also prevent or treat ovarian cysts, reduce symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, and feelings of depression.

Discuss with a doctor before adding other supplements to your daily routine. Some may interact with medications you are taking or have side effects. A doctor can also help you determine appropriate dosages and give you other instructions for use. Although there is no proven way to prevent future cysts from forming, different home measures can help ease any discomfort. If you are experiencing severe or otherwise concerning symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

Elawoman can assist you in selecting the best fertility procedure such as IVF, ICSI, IUI, donor egg insemination, controlled ovarian stimulation, surrogacy and more. Ela has successfully helped many couples realize their dreams of parenthood by helping them choose the most affordable and highly effective fertility treatments. Call us at +91-7899912611 to book an appointment now!

Dr. Mamta Pattnayak

About The Author

Obstetrician, Laparoscopic Surgeon Dr. Mamta Pattnayak
Gurgaon

Dr. Mamta Pattnayak is a gynaecologist, infertility specialist and obstetrician with illustrious experience of many years. She completed MBBS from SCB Medical college in 1999 and pursued MD in 2003. She is a member of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Delhi and American Association of Gynaecological Endoscopy. She holds her expertise in PCOD Treatment, Laparoscopic Surgery and Myomectomy, High-Risk Pregnancy Care, Normal Vaginal Delivery. Dr. Mamta Pattnayak is an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) specialist and is practising at Aro Health in Gurgaon. You can find the contact details of Dr. Mamta Pattnayak at elawoman.com

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Gunwant Kosuri

Dec. 21, 2018, 3:35 p.m. 4.5

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