Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pouches that form on the ovaries, the small organs located on either side of the uterus. While most cysts are benign and resolve on their own, some may cause discomfort and require treatment.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are prevalent among women and can occur during their childbearing years or after menopause. The most common type is known as functional cysts, which form as a result of the ovulation process. There are two subtypes of functional cysts:

Follicle cysts: These cysts form when the follicle fails to release the egg, resulting in the accumulation of fluid within the follicle.

Corpus luteum cysts: After the egg is released, the empty follicle seals off and can fill with blood and other fluids, forming a corpus luteum cyst.

Another type of cyst is a teratoma, which contains different types of tissues such as skin and hair. While most teratomas are noncancerous, in rare cases, they can become cancerous. Cystadenomas, on the other hand, develop from cells on the outer surface of the ovary and can grow large in size. Endometriomas are cysts associated with endometriosis, where the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus.

Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts

In many cases, ovarian cysts are discovered during routine pelvic exams or imaging tests conducted for other purposes. If a cyst is detected, your healthcare professional at Burjeel Hospital may recommend additional tests to gather more information. These tests include:

Ultrasound Exam: This imaging test uses sound waves to create pictures of the internal organs. It helps determine the shape, size, location, and composition (solid or fluid-filled) of the cyst, providing important insights into its nature.

Blood Tests: Certain blood tests can measure tumor markers, such as CA 125, which may indicate an increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, it’s important to note that these tests are not definitive for diagnosing cancer and are primarily used to assess the likelihood of malignancy.

Treatment Options

The appropriate treatment for ovarian cysts depends on various factors, such as the type of cyst, symptoms experienced, family history of cancer, and age. Treatment options include:

Watchful Waiting: For functional cysts that are not causing significant discomfort or complications, a “watch and wait” approach may be adopted. Regular ultrasound exams can help monitor the cyst’s size and appearance, as most functional cysts resolve within one or two menstrual cycles.

Surgery: Surgical intervention may be necessary if the cyst is large, causing symptoms, or if cancer is suspected. The extent and type of surgery depend on factors like the cyst’s size, type, symptoms, and desire for future fertility. Procedures can range from cystectomy (removal of the cyst while preserving the ovary) to oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries). Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery is often preferred, as it offers benefits such as shorter hospital stays, reduced pain, and faster recovery compared to open surgery.

While most ovarian cysts are benign and resolve on their own, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and monitoring. Regular check-ups and timely interventions, when required, play a crucial role in managing ovarian cysts effectively. At Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, our experienced medical team can provide comprehensive care and guidance tailored to your specific needs.