Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs in the ovaries.
Most ovarian cysts are 'functional cysts' which contain clear fluid. Such cysts are relatively common and occur in relation to the development of the egg in the ovary during the menstrual cycle. The cysts arise when there are problems with ovulation, and the egg is not released properly. These cysts usually resolve on their own with time. However, some ovarian cysts may be persistent or increase in size over time. If there are symptoms of pain or risks of cancer, surgery may be necessary.
Treatment of ovarian cysts
Several options are available. Similar to fibroids, the decision on which is the best treatment option depends on a variety of factors. These include:
- the nature of the symptoms e.g. severity of pain
- the desire for fertility (usually done to prepare for IVF treatment).
- the size of the lesion
- the risk for cancerous changes
Options for ovarian cysts:
Observation of ovarian cysts
Ultrasound scans are useful for the monitoring of ovarian cysts. Blood tests such as ovarian cancer markers like CA 125 may also be performed to monitor the risk for cancer.
Medication and hormonal treatment for ovarian cysts
Medication such as painkillers may be prescribed for pain from the ovarian cyst. In some cases, hormonal suppression of the menstrual cycle with birth control pills or injections may be recommended.
Cystectomy refers to surgery to remove the cysts while leaving the ovary intact. For women keen for fertility, cystectomy allows the cysts to be removed while conserving the ovaries. Cystectomy will enable the cyst to be sent for biopsy and confirm if the cyst is non- cancerous or not. Such surgery is usually performed by laparoscopy laparoscopy (minimally- invasive or key- hole method).
Surgery to remove the ovary is the permanent solution for ovarian cysts but the ovary is an important source of hormones. If early menopause occurs, hormone replacement therapy may be needed.