GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian Cysts:
What You Need to Know

  • What is an ovarian cyst?

    An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled sac arising from the ovary. They can vary in size and number. Ovarian cysts may occur in women of all ages at any point in their lives. Most cysts are harmless, asymptomatic and may resolve on their own.

  • Am I at risk of ovarian cysts?

    An ovarian cyst is a common condition in women. Most women develop ovarian cysts but are not aware of it because cysts usually cause little to no discomfort when small. In addition, most of these cysts resolve within weeks or months without any ovarian cyst treatment.

  • What’s the difference between functional and pathological cysts?

    Follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts belong to a group called functional cysts. A follicular cyst develops when the follicle which holds an egg does not rupture and release the egg (anovulation). The follicle grows instead to form a cyst. A corpus luteum cyst develops when the egg is released followed by bleeding into the follicle creating a cyst. Apart from how they are formed during a menstrual cycle, functional cysts are usually benign and don’t present any outward symptoms or cause any pain. Functional cysts normally resolve on their own within two to three menstrual cycles.

    On the other hand, there are other types of ovarian cysts whose occurrence are not associated with the menstrual cycle. Known as pathological cysts, they include dermoid cysts, cystadenomas and endometriomas. Dermoid cysts of the ovaries contain tissues such as hair, skin and teeth because they form from embryonic cells. Cystadenomas grow on the surface of ovaries and contain fluid. Endometriomas are caused by endometriosis—a condition where tissues cells that line the inside of the womb (endometrium) grow on the outside of the uterus. Pathological cysts can become so big that complications like severe pain due to ovarian torsion (twisting) and rupture of cysts may occur.

  • Can ovarian cysts cause complications?

    Yes. Although ovarian cysts are generally harmless and painless, some may grow so big as to result in serious complications. Large ovarian cysts may cause the ovary to shift in position and twist, resulting in a condition known as ovarian torsion. Some symptoms of ovarian torsion include pain resulting from decreased blood flow to the ovaries. If not surgically corrected in time, the ovary may necrose and require removal. When large ovarian cysts burst, known as a rupture, it results in internal bleeding and severe pain.

    Another related condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects about 27% of women, is the result of the ovaries containing a huge number of tiny cysts. PCOS is commonly associated with hormonal imbalance as well as the inability to ovulate and therefore infertility.

    Some ovarian cyst may become cancerous and these tend to occur in older women most often after menopause, although it can occur at any age too.

Ovarian Cysts & Other Medical Conditions

Ovarian Cysts & Infertility

Generally, ovarian cysts are not associated with decreased fertility. For one, functional cysts, dermoid cysts and cystadenomas do not lead to infertility. In some cases when these cysts become too big, they might cause difficulties during pregnancy and delivery. Surgery done by an ovarian cyst specialist may be recommended if a cyst is too big or is causing complications like ovarian torsion or rupture.

Endometriomas and PCOS, however, can cause disruption to menstrual cycles and lead to anovulation (absence of ovulation). Endometriosis may cause pelvic adhesions and damage the fallopian tubes. When left untreated, these may result in infertility.

Ovarian Cysts & Ovarian Cancer

The malignancy potential of an ovarian cyst can be determined using ultrasound scan, CT scan, MRI scan and a blood test (ovarian tumour markers). Fortunately, ovarian cysts are usually benign. If the ovarian cyst is cancerous, surgery followed by chemotherapy / radiotherapy is usually the treatment of choice.

“We understand the distress that ovarian cysts can cause. We endeavour to ensure that our treatment caters to the needs of each individual patient, and that every visit is a rejuvenating experience in your recovery process.”

Dr Christopher Ng
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist