It can be worrisome to learn that your gynecologist has discovered cysts on your ovaries during a routine pelvic exam or ultrasound. This is especially if your menstrual cycle is regular and you don’t have any concerning symptoms like pelvic pressure or pain.
But actually, that’s the first myth about ovarian cysts that we’d like to set straight: Not only are ovarian cysts incredibly common, but in most cases, they’re completely harmless and go away on their own. In fact, the vast majority of women develop an ovarian cyst at some point in their lives, and most don’t even know it.
On the odd chance that an ovarian cyst does grow larger and cause symptoms, it’s important to understand the reality of your diagnosis as well as your treatment options. To help you out, we’d like to set the record straight on a few common myths and misconceptions about ovarian cysts.
While many women believe that ovarian cysts are either cancerous or a precursor to ovarian cancer, most aren’t cancerous when they’re discovered and don’t become cancerous over time. Unlike the solid masses of tissue that make up tumors, cysts are simple, fluid-filled sacs that rarely contain cancer cells.
Any ovarian cysts that emerge following menopause should be checked for signs of cancer and monitored more carefully, as post-menopausal women have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Luckily, a simple ultrasound is often all it takes for Dr. Serrano
to determine if cancer is a concern, and problematic cysts can be surgically removed for a complete analysis.
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are “functional” cysts that form during normal ovulation. Because functional cysts usually disappear on their own over the course of a few menstrual cycles, they rarely interfere with ovulation or cause fertility problems.
While relatively rare, it is possible for a functional cyst to stick around, grow, and interfere with normal ovulation or present a physical obstruction to the fertilization process. If an otherwise benign ovarian cyst appears to be affecting your fertility, Dr. Serrano can remove it surgically.
If your cysts happen to be caused by a chronic gynecological condition like endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, they — and the conditions they stem from — may be more likely to affect your fertility.
As we’ve mentioned, the vast majority of ovarian cysts are the functional kind that disappear on their own, usually within one to three menstrual cycles. For this reason, watchful waiting is often the first course of action for small, asymptomatic ovarian cysts that appear to be benign.
If, however, your cyst continues to grow, or if you begin to experience pelvic pain, abdominal pressure, or any other uncomfortable symptoms, surgery may be your best treatment option. Surgery may also be the best solution for cysts that appear abnormal on an ultrasound.
Most problematic ovarian cysts are removed with minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, an advanced technique that uses smaller incisions to promote faster healing and recovery. Open surgery may be required if cancer is suspected.
If you’re prone to recurrent functional cysts, hormonal contraception like birth control pills can help suppress their development by preventing ovulation, the part of your menstrual cycle that creates them in the first place. Hormonal contraception is also a good idea if you’ve ever had a problematic ovarian cyst that required surgery.
Here at Serrano OBGYN, we know that high-quality women’s health care begins with accurate information that dispels common myths and misconceptions and keeps you informed with real facts. To learn more about ovarian cysts, call our San Antonio, Texas, office today, or click online to schedule a visit with Christopher or Alberto Serrano any time.