Not to be confused with the unruptured follicles that occur in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form in or one your ovaries and may be benign or malignant.
For many women, ovarian cysts are simply a by-product of their monthly cycle – and indeed doctors believe that such cysts are common. Often, the cysts are small, so show no symptoms and present no problems. They can eve disappear of their own accord over time. You may never know that you had them, or you may discover them only when you have a scan for something else. Occasionally, however, the cysts are large and can rupture. This may cause abdominal pain and bloating, or you may experience spots of blood between your periods. Very occasionally, the cysts may be cancerous. Although rare, the possibility makes it vital that you visit your doctor if you experience any symptoms that concern you.
Natural medicine can provide wonderful, long-lasting relief from ovarian cysts, primarily by giving you the tools with which to balance your hormones. However, as ovarian cysts can be cancerous, it’s important that you follow any natural healthcare program in conjunction with advice from your medical doctor.
Types of Ovarian Cyst
There are two categories of ovarian cyst. They are functional cysts and abnormal cysts.
As the name implies, functional cysts are caused by the abnormal functioning of the ovaries and are the most common kind of ovarian cyst. Cysts may form at any time in your cycle but are given different names according to when in the cycle your ovaries malfunction to cause them. As the first half of your cycle is called the follicular phase, cysts occurring at this state are called follicular cysts. The second half is called the luteal phase and so may produce luteal cysts (sometimes called corpus luteum cysts).
The follicular phase is characterized by the gradual maturation of follicles on your ovary, one of which will usually release an egg. If the follicles fail to release an egg, and instead keep growing, filling up with fluid, you’ll develop follicular cysts. If an egg is released, you enter the luteal phase. A luteal cyst forms when, instead of withering away, the follicular sac that once held the egg, seals up again and becomes engorged with blood and fluid. Sometimes a luteal cyst can twist the ovary and cause pain. If the cyst ruptures, you’ll experience a sharp pain and have internal bleeding. You may need emergency surgery.
These kinds of cyst come in three types: cystadenoma cysts (which develop from cells on the outer surface of the ovaries), endometrial cysts, and dermoid cysts. Dermoid cysts are classed as tumors because they are solid structures, filled with pieces of teeth, skin, hair and bone, rather than being filled with fluid. It’s though that dermoid cysts occur because an unfertilized egg starts to produce various body tissues.
Although they’re caused by abnormal cell growth, abnormal cysts are not necessarily cancerous and in some cases they will not cause you any problems at all. However, if abnormal cysts rupture, or if the stem on which they have grown twists, you may be forced to have emergency surgery to remove the cyst. The symptoms of a burst cyst are pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding, or abdominal infection. A twisted cyst stem will cause severe pain and sometimes vomiting.
Research has yet to uncover why women develop abnormal ovarian cysts, but there are several risk factors we know about when it comes to the functional kind. Cysts are a natural by-product of ovulation every month, and every woman has the potential to get them. If you delay childbearing, you have more periods and so there is more chance that your ovaries will develop functional cysts. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and even being on the pill mean that your body has a “rest” from ovulation, which reduces your likelihood of functional cysts occurring. You’re also more at risk if you’re a smoker.