Ovarian cysts can have a variety of causes. Follicular cysts develop when the follicles inside the ovaries continue to grow after the egg has been released. Corpus luteum cysts develop when the follicle seals itself off and begins to accumulate fluid. Endometrial cysts form when uterine tissue begins to accumulate outside of the uterus. These are often associated with endometriosis. Cystadenomas develop from ovarian tissue that abnormally begin to multiply. These small cysts fill with water or mucus and are relatively harmless. Most ovarian cysts are benign and do not increase a woman's risk of cancer of the reproductive system.
Most ovarian cysts do not cause widespread symptoms. Many women who are diagnosed with smaller ovarian cysts report no symptoms whatsoever. It is only when the cysts become overly large or develop in an area where they are close to nerves or large blood vessels, that symptoms begin to be reported. Symptoms that are commonly associated with ovarian cysts include pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, breast tenderness, abnormal bleeding between periods, and fullness or bloating of the abdomen. Symptoms will vary depending on the size and location of the cyst. In most cases, cysts will disappear on their own before symptoms are even noticed.
Treatment options are based on a variety of factors. A woman's age, medical history, the size of the cyst, and the severity of symptoms will determine the path the doctor takes for treatment. For many women, simply giving the cyst time to disappear on its own is a common option. If the cyst is believed to have been caused by an imbalance in the woman's hormones, birth control may be a viable option. Both oral and subdermal forms of contraceptives are used to treat ovarian cysts. If the cyst is very large or if it has, in some way, caused damage to the ovary itself, the doctor may choose to surgically remove the cyst. If the ovary has been damaged, it may also be removed.
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