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Symptoms and causes of ovarian cysts

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What is it?

Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs or pockets which are found in an ovary or on its surface. The two ovaries present in a female body are about the size and shape of an almond. Eggs are developed and matured in the ovaries and they are released during the monthly cycle. Ovarian cysts are common in many women. At some point of their life most of them carry them. Even after its presence, the host may not feel any all little discomfort and they are generally harmless. Most of them disappear without any treatment within a few months. However, some of the ovarian cysts that rupture can result in serious problems. Regular pelvic exam can help you to detect such cysts in time. Also knowing about the symptoms of ovarian cysts will help you to find out if you have them.


Most of the ovarian cysts do not show any symptoms. If you have a large ovarian cyst, it can cause the following symptoms-

  • Pelvic pain. You may suffer from and dull or short pain in the lower abdomen on the side where the cysts are present.
  • Fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
  • bloating

You should see a doctor immediately if you suffer from a sudden or severe abdominal or pelvic pain. If you are having pain with fever or vomiting, you should immediately see your doctor. Some women may have cold, clammy skin, rapid breathing, light-headedness or weakness. In that case, you should immediately go and see a doctor.


Most of the ovarian cysts develop as a result of menstrual cycle. These are known as functional cysts. Other types of cysts are not very common. The ovaries normally grows cyst like structures known as follicles every month. These follicles produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone and release an egg during ovulation. If somehow this follicle keeps growing, it is called as a functional cyst. There are two types of functional cyst present-

Follicular cyst

At the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, an egg bursts out of the follicle and travels to the fallopian tube. If for some reason the follicle does not rupture and release the egg and keeps growing than a follicular cyst may form.

Corpus luteum cyst

After the release of the egg, the follicle starts producing estrogen and progesterone which will help in conception. After the release, the follicle is called as the corpus luteum. If somehow fluid accumulation happens inside the corpus luteum, it can start to grow into a cyst.

As mentioned earlier, functional cysts are generally harmless and they do not cause pain. They often disappear within 2 to 3 menstrual cycles.

Other types of cysts

There may be some other types of cysts which are not related to normal function of the menstrual cycle. These cysts may include the following-

Dermoid cysts

These are known as teratomas. These cysts may contain tissue like hair, skin or teeth because they develop from embryonic cells. The cysts are not cancerous.


These type of cysts may develop on the surface of an ovary. They may contain water or a mucous material.


This type of cyst may develop as a result of the condition where the uterine endometrial cells may grow outside the uterus.

Risk factors

There are several risk factors which may increase the possibility of developing an ovarian cyst. Such factors may include hormonal problems, pregnancy, endometriosis, severe pelvic infection and a previous ovarian cyst.


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