A cyst is a sac which is filled with fluid, often compared to blisters in appearance. Ovarian cysts are actually common in women during their menstrual cycle; commonly a cyst structure known as a follicle grows in the ovary and releases the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which in turn stimulate the ovary to release an egg down the fallopian tube. Typically when the egg is released the follicle ruptures harmlessly, although once the follicle has ruptured it can be common for a normal cyst to grow. This normal cyst is known as a functional ovarian cyst, and is harmless, usually shrinking over the course of several menopausal cycles.
It is when this process does not resolve naturally that the body can produce complex ovarian cysts. These cysts are usually formed from both solid tissues, including hair, and liquid, and can form in the ovary itself or around the outer surface of the ovary. It is important to respond quickly to symptoms as ovarian cysts can prove to be fatal if left for a long period of time, although this is uncommon. In most cases the cysts do not produce symptoms, but in the cases where they do produce symptoms these are fairly immediate following the cyst development.
The most common symptom of complex ovarian cysts is a feeling of pain in the abdominal or pelvic areas. This pain is often a persistent ache or a feeling of pressure. Pain may also be present during sexual intercourse, particularly in the pelvis region. This pain can be caused for several reasons, such as the cyst blocking blood flow into the ovary, known as torsion. Similarly, pain can be caused if the cyst bursts and irritates the ovarian tissue around it. It can be common for this pain to cause a feeling of nausea as well.
Women with complex ovarian cysts may also find that their menstrual cycle undergoes changes, such as becoming delayed or irregular, at times stopping altogether. It is also common to find that the period becomes more painful than it has been previously. Other symptoms can include weight gain, difficulty when urinating, a bloated feeling, and feeling weak.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to consult your doctor immediately. They will be able to examine you more closely to and use tests to determine the extent of the cyst and how dangerous it may prove to be. Various treatments are available to aid the cyst’s natural decrease in size, although surgery may be an option for larger or more dangerous ovarian cysts.