Ovarian cysts are very common in women of all ages. In this article, we are going to talk about the types of ovarian cysts as well as about the causes of their formation.
In the article «Menstrual cycle phases and regulating hormones», we presented the functions of the female reproductive organs and their contribution to the menstrual cycle. During this process, mistakes that lead to different consequences can not always be avoided. A common example of such a consequence is the formation of ovarian cysts. Over the past few years, the advancement of the technological devices used by doctors has helped the easy detection of the cysts and as a result their fast treatment.
What are the ovarian cysts and what do they cause?
Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluids and are created inside or above an ovary. Most of them disappear, without being treated, after weeks or months and they are completely harmless. Some of them, though, keep growing and affect women in different ways, for example by causing abdominal or pelvic pain or leading to a sense of pressure to the ovaries. Serious problems can be caused by a cyst rupture followed by secretion of its fluids to the uterus and the abdomen. Something like that can cause not only infections but also intense pain. There is also a chance that a cyst twists, blocking the blood transfer to the ovaries and causing serious pain. In these two cases, surgery is immediately needed.
What are the types of ovarian cysts?
There are many different types of ovarian cysts which are divided into two larger groups, the functional and the non-functional cysts.
When a cyst is created during the menstrual cycle, then it’s called a functional cyst. There are two types of functional cysts:
- The follicular cysts. In cases where the ovulation isn’t complete or successful, the follicle, that never bursts, remains into the ovary, keeps growing and converts into a cyst. The follicular cysts usually cause no symptoms and vanish after some weeks or months.
- The corpus luteum cysts. When the corpus luteum doesn’t dissolve after the ovulation, it can be filled with fluids or blood and keep getting bigger. Then it transforms into a cyst, which is also usually harmless and disappears after a few weeks.
The other types of cysts that appear often on or in an ovary are:
- Cystadenomas. These cysts are a kind of benign tumor and are formed by cells of the ovarian surface. They contain transparent or mucus fluids and are called serous and mucinous cystadenomas, respectively. They can enlarge and cause pain in the abdomen area.
- Endometriomas. These kinds of cysts are connected with a malignant condition called “endometriosis”, during which some tissue of the endometrium is detached from the uterus. In case this tissue attaches to the ovaries, it forms cysts. These cysts usually contain lots of blood and they appear with a brown color. Therefore, they are also called “chocolate cysts”. Women with endometriomas often complain about pain during sex or menstruation and reduced fertility.
- Dermoid cysts. They are a form of benign tumor and are also known as “mature cystic teratomas”. They are formed by several types of genital cells and they usually contain hair, teeth and other types of tissue. They can increase in size and twist causing serious problems. Younger women suffer more often of this type of cysts.
- Polycystic ovaries. When the follicles of a woman’s ovaries are constantly unable to rupture, they are gathered within the ovary and after several menstrual cycles, they change into little cysts. This type of cysts is associated with hormonal disorders and usually leads to the “polycystic ovaries syndrome”.
- Adenocarcinomas. They are malignant ovarian cysts that usually show up in women above the age of 60. Rarely, some of the cysts mentioned above can transform into an adenocarcinoma.
All these types of ovarian cysts can easily be diagnosed by a routine ultrasound examination and through specific hormonal blood tests. The most common treatment for cysts that are persistent is the administration of the birth control pill. In cases where this medication is not effective and the cyst continues to grow, threatening the ovary, an operation might be needed. At any rate, the doctor is in charge of judging which treatment is appropriate.
Ovarian cysts are very common to women, no matter how old they are. Nowadays, they are easily detected and treated. Although women should not be afraid of them, they must never neglect their regular check by their gynecologist. That’s because, as with other diseases, the sooner the cysts are found the faster and more effectively they can be treated.
- Photo by Uterus Art – No changes were made