Ovarian cysts can cause a variety of symptoms and may be simple functional cysts which resolve on their own, or may require more definitive treatment.
Most ovarian cysts are small and harmless. They occur most frequently during the reproductive years, but they can appear at any age. There are often no signs or symptoms, but ovarian cysts can sometimes cause pain and bleeding. If the cyst is a significant size it may need to be surgically removed. As well as clinical examination, a pelvic ultrasound scan is often needed to accurately diagnose and assess the cyst’s size and see if there are any abnormal features.
Pelvic pain and bloating
Cysts in the ovary often don’t cause any symptoms. However, if they’re large, you may feel either a dull or sharp pain in your pelvis or abdomen. You may also feel bloated, or a heaviness in your lower abdomen. If the cyst ruptures or twists, you’ll feel a sudden, sharp pain and sickness.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods is also called intermenstrual bleeding, spotting, and menorrhagia. When bleeding occurs between normal periods, there are many possible causes. While some causes may be easy to treat, others can indicate a serious underlying condition. Ovarian cysts can present in this way.
A dermoid cyst is a common benign growth in the ovary that may contain a variety of different tissues, such as hair follicles, skin tissue, bone and glands that produce sweat and skin oil. Dermoid cysts are usually harmless but may need surgery to remove them once they reach a certain size or cause symptoms.
Endometriosis may be found in the ovaries where it can form cysts often referred to as chocolate cysts. These are benign but frequently present with pelvic pain and fertility problems.
Ovarian screening/CA 125
Blood tests such as CA 125 may also be used to determine the origin of the cyst and whether or not surgical intervention is required. In some cases ovarian cysts may be managed conservatively, whereas others will require either laparoscopic or open surgery, depending on their size, the potential for malignancy and the patient’s fertility wishes.