How Do I Know If I Have An Ovarian Cyst? And What Is A Cyst Anyway?

Hi Heather,

I have sort of a weird question for you. How do you know if you have an ovarian cyst? And what exactly are they? Are they really dangerous? One of my aunts had one a few weeks ago and ever since then I’ve been really freaked out that it’s going to happen to me and I don’t even really know what it means. Please help and give me some answers!

Don’t freak out or be worried! Ovarian cysts are more common than you’d think and they are usually harmless. Most women will get one at some point in her life and she might never know – they vary in severity. Plus, there’s no point in worrying about something when you have no idea whether you’ll get it or not.

First, let’s discuss what exactly is going on down there when you have a cyst. An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac or pocket that is on the surface of a woman’s ovary. There are a few different kinds: functional cysts, which start during your menstrual cycle and are normal; and dermoid cysts, cystadenomas and endometriomas. Functional cysts are typically nothing to worry about – they are usually harmless, don’t have any symptoms and go away on their own. The others can get more complicated. Dermoid cysts form from cells that produce human eggs and can contain tissue like hair, skin or teeth. That sounds terrifying but they are not usually cancerous. Cystadenomas develops from ovarian tissue and is filled with liquid or mucus. Endometriomas cysts happen if you have endometriosis, a separate condition.

Dermoid and Cystadenomas can get complicated because they can get very large and start to move your ovaries. You’ll start to notice something is up if you have a large cyst like this. Large cysts produce symptoms such as abdominal pain, pelvic pain (around your lower back and thighs, before and after your period, during sex), pain during bowel movements or feeling like you always have to urinate if it’s sitting close to your bladder, nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness. As you can see, these symptoms could mean A LOT of things, which makes it a little complicated. If you ever feel sharp abdominal pain, you should go to a doctor.

So how do you know if you have one if those symptoms are so common? Cysts are typically checked for during pelvic exams, so if you’re worried, make sure you’re having those on a regular basis. If you feel like something is going on, get checked. Some people who get cysts often take birth control pills to stop it from happening. Sometimes, if a cyst is really large, you need to have surgery to have it removed. This recently happened to a friend of mine and while it was really scary, she’s okay!

Although most cysts are benign, some are cancerous. This used to mean you had to have major surgery, but with new technology, doctors can sometimes just drain them. Try not to stress, though. For the most part, cysts are harmless and normal.

take care,
Heather

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