6 Causes of Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are not always a cause for major concern. Like other types of cysts, they occur when fluid builds up inside of a membrane- in this case, inside of the ovary. Cysts take on the appearance of a sac and can range in severity of size, from tinier than a pea to larger than an orange. These sacs can be filled by different materials, from semi-solid to liquid or gaseous. It’s important to note that the contents of a cyst differ from an abscess in that they are not composed of pus.

Most ovarian cysts are small and thus harmless. While they appear most frequently during the prime female reproductive years, they can come about at any age. Unfortunately, there are sometime no signs or symptoms until later in their development, making early detection challenging. However, they are associated with a number of common symptoms, including: lower abdominal and pelvic pain, bloating, painful bowel movements, pain in the lower back and thighs, abnormal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, tenderness in the breasts, fever, dizziness, and pain during intercourse.

Though they are normally easy to treat, some types of ovarian cysts can cause complications, such as cutting off blood supply to the ovaries. Ruptured cysts are also dangerous, as they increase the risk of infection, pain, and internal bleeding if untreated. The following are the most common causes and accompanying symptoms of ovarian cysts. If you notice any of the following, you should make an appointment with a doctor.

1. Follicular

These are the most common type of ovarian cysts, as they occur naturally during the menstrual cycle. When an egg is released from one of the ovaries each month (ovulation), it moves to the womb for the purpose of being fertilized by sperm. These eggs are formed in the follicle, which protects the growing egg with fluid. When the egg is ready to be released for potential fertilization, the follicle is meant to burst.

In some cases, however, the follicle can perform differently, either failing to shed the fluid and shrink back to normal or by not releasing the egg at all. When this happens, the follicle continues to swell and grow, forming into a follicular cyst. This type is not cancerous and are typically painless. Most often, they go away on their own after a few weeks, and patients may not even notice them. Medical attention is required if these cysts lead to any pain or complications.