An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac in or around the ovary. Often, women are unaware that they have one until their doctor discovers it during a routine checkup. Ovarian cysts are common and form about 6% of emergency gynaecological surgeries in Nigeria.
In Europe, an extensive screening trial revealed that 21.01 per cent of healthy postmenopausal women had ovarian cysts at least once in their lifetime. And worldwide, 7% of women had ovarian cysts at least once.
Types of ovarian cysts
There are two variants of ovarian cysts. The first kind of ovarian cyst is from fluids in the ovaries during ovulation; the other kind is unrelated to this biological process.
The Follicle cysts and Corpus luteum cysts form during ovulation. They occur when the ovarian follicle cannot break open to release an egg or if the hormone-releasing Corpus Luteum does not dissolve a few days after ovulation.
Both kinds of cysts are referred to as Functional cysts and are often harmless and not painful.
Dr. Cathryn Chan, an obstetrician, and gynaecologist at the Astra Women's Specialist, explained that the follicle cysts and Corpus luteum cysts are often harmless. "Follicular cysts and Corpus Luteum cysts are functional cysts. And they do not require treatment." She said.
And Mellisa R.Peskin-stolze an Ob-gyn at the Albert Einstein college of medicine, says that these cysts usually go away on their own during pregnancy. "If a cyst is still present on the corpus luteum by the end of the first trimester, or early part of the second one, it usually resolves itself."
The other kinds of ovarian cysts are pathological cysts. They are abnormal cysts that develop from different tissues in the ovary. They include the following:
- An endometriotic cyst is a sac filled with stale and brownish blood. People with severe endometriosis are more susceptible to these kinds of cysts. It occurs when tissues that are supposed to grow within the uterus grow outside and attach to the ovaries.
- Dermoid cyst: This is an ovarian tumour. These sacs can contain hair, fat and other tissues. These kinds of cysts occur when there is a problem with the splitting of cells in pregnancy. Fully developed tissues like hair, bone, and even teeth then collect in an ovary sac.
- Mucinous cystadenoma: Although the exact cause of this kind of ovarian cyst is still unknown, researchers have observed that genetics may play a role in its development. It is a vast but benign tumour that grows on the thin surface of an ovary.
- Serous cystadenoma: This kind is also a benign ovarian tumour. And it rarely transforms into cancer. Again, the exact cause is still unknown, but genetic mutation can contribute to its development.
Ovarian cysts and cancer
You might wonder if these cysts can lead to cancer. They rarely do. Less than 1% of new growths on or around the ovaries are related to ovarian cancer.
The risk of an ovarian cyst being cancerous is only high if the cysts are complex or occur in menopausal women.
Symptoms and Signs of ovarian cysts
As mentioned earlier, ovarian cysts are common and often go unnoticed. However, if they are large, blocking blood supply or rupturing, you would experience the following symptoms:
- Sharp/dull pain in the lower abdomen.
- Abdominal bloating or heaviness.
- Loss of appetite.
- Pain during sex.
- Frequent urination.
- Difficulty with urination or excretion.
- Abnormal menstrual periods (weighty, very light or infrequent).
Are ovarian cysts and fibroids the same thing?
No, they aren’t. They might have similarities. Fibroids are non-cancerous masses that develop outside the uterine walls. That is why it is essential to have a test done before you conclude.
The symptoms of ovarian cysts are insufficient to conclude that you have one.
To get a definite diagnosis, you have to visit a doctor. The medical expert will perform a transvaginal or transabdominal ultrasound to confirm whether you have an ovarian cyst.
Available medical treatments for ovarian cysts
It is important to note that although functional ovarian cysts can be harmless, there is a possibility that functional cysts (Corpus luteum) may twist on the ovary blood supply or rupture and cause you pain or even endanger your ovary. So schedule several medical checkups after you have been diagnosed with one.
At the hospital, doctors employ several methods to treat ovarian cysts. Some of them include the following:
This method applies to functional cysts. Many doctors suggest monitoring if a cyst is not painful or giving you any form of discomfort. After discovery, a follow-up ultrasound will be scheduled for a few weeks to check if the cysts have dissolved.
In some cases, to prevent the growth of these ovarian cysts, your doctor might suggest hormonal birth control. This would stop ovulation every month and prevent these cysts from forming.
This treatment method is usually the last resort for ovarian cysts that continue to grow or cause pain. The laparoscopic technique (keyhole surgery) is often used to treat these ovarian cysts. This kind of surgical technique is less invasive and not open surgery.
Management centres for ovarian cyst in Nigeria
Below are some medical facilities that offer treatment for ovarian cysts in Nigeria. You can book an appointment online.
- Nisa premier hospital.
- Surjen healthcare.
- Procare hospital.
Cost of treatment
Laparoscopic surgery for ovarian cysts costs between #460,000 - #850,000 in Nigeria.
Ovarian cysts are treatable, and it’s preventable. Book regular checkups with your gynaecologist if you notice any of the above symptoms.
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