Ovarian cysts are a very common disorder among women, particularly those of pre-menopausal age. In many cases, they produce no symptoms at all, but for many women, cystic ovaries are accompanied by various signs, which vary depending on the type of cyst that is present, and its severity. This article gives a guide to the most common ovarian cyst symptoms.
First of all, it’s important to realise that not all ovarian cysts are alike; they basically fall into two categories: functional and abnormal. Functional cysts arise as part of the normal menstrual cycle, and aren’t associated with disease. Types include follicular and corpus luteum cysts. Abnormal cysts on the other hand may be pathological in nature, and include endometrioid cysts (a form of endometriosis where uterine tissue adheres to the ovary), cystadenomas and dermoid cysts (both of which are types benign tumours), polycystic ovarian syndrome (also known as PCOS – a hormonal disorder which involves the formation of multiple cysts on the ovary, as well as other symptoms), and malignant cysts (ovarian cancer). These different cyst types have different treatments, so if you are suffering from symptoms of ovarian cysts, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from your doctor.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the lower abdominal region, the genital area, the lower back and/or the thighs
- Menstrual problems, such as irregular periods, menstrual pain or spotting in between periods
- Unexplained weight gain
- Adult acne
- An increase in the growth of hair on the face or body
- A sense of pressure in the abdominal area, which may cause difficulty with emptying the bowels or bladder
- Breast soreness
- Fertility problems
- Feelings of nausea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting
In a small number of cases, cysts can present a significant threat to health; in particular, you should seek immediate medical advice if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Lumps in the abdominal or pelvic area
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Persistent feelings of weakness, dizziness or fainting
- Severe or prolonged abdominal pain
The above lists of symptoms are not exhaustive; these are merely the most common issues that tend to accompany cystic ovaries. They can also be associated with other health problems, but if they persist for more than a few weeks, you should seek medical advice. Ovarian cysts don’t always require treatment, and will often clear up by themselves. However, it’s best to get a diagnosis to begin with, so you know what you’re dealing with.