An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid enclosed by an extremely thin membrane (wall), within an ovary. Ovarian cysts vary in size from as small as a pea to bigger than an orange.
Nearly all ovarian cysts are small and will not produce any symptoms.
Sometimes a large cyst ruptures or blocks an artery supplying blood to the ovary which can trigger an abrupt, severe pain.
If the cyst is large enough to cause twisting of the ovary, you will have pain with nausea and vomiting.
Other less frequent symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
- Frequent need to urinate
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pain during your period
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Dull ache in the lower back and thigh
The ovaries are two small organs found on both sides of the uterus in a woman’s body. The ovaries produce hormones, like estrogen, which regulate menstruation. Each month, the ovaries generate an egg. The egg finds its way down the fallopian tube to be potentially fertilized by a sperm. This cycle of egg release is called ovulation. See figure below.
Types of Ovarian Cysts
There are many types of ovarian cysts. The most common is a functional cyst which develops during ovulation. This development occurs when either the egg is not released or the sac (follicle), in which the egg develops, does not dissolve after the egg is released.
Other of cysts are:
- Polycystic ovaries. The sac wherein the egg matures fails to open and develops into a cyst. This condition is called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
- Endometriosis. When tissue from the lining (endometrium) of the uterus grows in the ovary, it can cause pain and influence fertility.
- Cystadenomas. These cysts form on the surface of the ovary and are usually fluid-filled.
- Dermoid cysts. This kind of cyst consists of tissue identical to tissues in other parts of the body.