Gynaecologist ovarian cysts

Everything you need to know about ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop on your ovaries. They’re quite common and can happen to women of any age, even after menopause. In this article, I’ll explain all the ins and outs you need to know about ovarian cysts, so you can feel informed and reassured.
Gynaecologist ovarian cysts
Gynaecologist ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts symptoms

Understanding ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts can develop for various reasons, often linked to your menstrual cycle. If we did an ultrasound on all women who are having periods, about a quarter of them would have an ovarian cyst at any given time. But don’t worry; most of these cysts are harmless and will disappear on their own without any treatment. It can sound scary, but it’s usually not something you need to be overly concerned about.
Gynaecologist ovarian cysts

Symptoms you might notice

Many women with ovarian cysts don’t even realise they have them because they often don’t cause any symptoms. You might only find out you have a cyst during a routine scan or while investigating another issue. However, sometimes these cysts can cause noticeable symptoms.

You might feel:

  • A dull ache or heaviness in your pelvis
  • A feeling of fullness or bloating in your abdomen
  • The need to urinate more often if the cyst is pressing on your bladder

In more severe cases, a cyst can rupture or bleed into itself, leading to sudden and intense pain. Another serious condition, called ovarian torsion, happens when a cyst causes your ovary to twist, cutting off its blood supply. This is extremely painful and is a medical emergency that needs immediate surgery.

Diagnosing ovarian cysts

When it comes to diagnosing ovarian cysts, the main tool we use is a pelvic ultrasound. This imaging test lets us see the size, type, and features of the cyst. 

“For most women who are having periods, the cyst we find is often a simple or follicular cyst, which usually goes away on its own. However, if the cyst is larger or looks unusual, we might need to do more tests.”

anna clare gynaecologist Perth
Dr Anna Clare,

Perth gynaecologist

This could include additional imaging or blood tests to make sure it isn’t something more serious, like cancer. For women who are postmenopausal, we are extra careful because the risk of cancer is higher, so we manage these cases with even more attention. 

Ovarian cysts and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are often confused, but they are not the same thing. While both involve cysts on the ovaries, the conditions are quite different. 

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop for various reasons and often go away on their own. They are usually harmless and can occur in women of all ages.

PCOS, on the other hand, is a hormonal disorder that affects how the ovaries work. Women with PCOS often have multiple very tiny cysts or follicles on their ovaries each less than 1 cm across, but the main issue is a hormonal imbalance. This can lead to symptoms like irregular periods, weight gain, acne, and excess hair growth. PCOS can also affect fertility and requires a different approach to diagnosis and treatment.

In summary, while both conditions involve changes on the ovaries that can be seen on ultrasound, there is a difference between one larger cysts and many very tiny ones. PCOS is a more complex hormonal disorder with a broader range of symptoms and implications. If you’re ever unsure about your symptoms or diagnosis, always feel free to reach out to me or any Perth gynaecologist here at Woom for clarification and guidance.

While simple cysts are the most common, there are other types you might encounter:

Endometriomas: These cysts are linked to endometriosis and are filled with dark brown fluid. They often signal more widespread endometriosis and may need surgery, especially if they cause pain or fertility problems. Think of them as pockets of endometriosis that can cause trouble in the ovary.

Dermoid cysts: These unusual cysts come from cells that can produce various tissues, so they might contain hair, teeth, or other tissues. They rarely go away on their own and increase the risk of ovarian torsion, which is when the ovary twists. Because of this, we usually remove these surgically.

Perth Gynaecologist ovarian cysts

How do we treat ovarian cysts ?

The treatment for ovarian cysts depends on things like the size and type of the cyst, your age, and if you have any symptoms. If the cyst is small and not causing any problems, we often just keep an eye on it with regular scans to make sure it’s not growing or changing. This “wait and see” approach helps us monitor it closely without immediate intervention. 

However, if your cyst is larger, causing you symptoms, or looks concerning, surgery might be your best option. Here are the two main types of ovarian cyst surgery we might consider:

Laparoscopic surgery (keyhole surgery): This is a minimally invasive procedure where we remove the cyst or, if needed, the entire ovary. It’s called keyhole surgery because it involves small incisions, which means a shorter recovery time for you.

Open surgery: If there’s a significant risk of cancer, we prefer open surgery. This approach allows us to remove the cyst carefully and reduce the chance of any cancerous cells spreading.

When do we recommend surgery for ovarian cysts?

Surgery becomes necessary if your cyst is causing significant pain, pressure, or if there’s a concern about it being cancerous. For cysts like dermoid cysts, which rarely go away on their own, surgery is the best solution. Endometriomas might also need surgery, especially if they cause a lot of pain or affect fertility. 

By understanding the different treatment options, you can feel more confident and informed about the best course of action for your health. If you ever have questions or concerns, always reach out to me or any of the gynaecologists here at Woom in West Perth.

What to expect during recovery

Recovery after surgery can vary depending on the type of procedure you have. If you undergo laparoscopic surgery, also known as keyhole surgery, you can usually get back to your normal activities within a couple of weeks. Many women have this surgery as a day case, meaning you can go home the same day or stay in the hospital for just one night. 

If you need open surgery, the recovery time will be longer. You’ll likely spend a few nights in the hospital and then need up to six weeks of rest before you can resume your regular activities, including lifting and exercise.

“If an ovary is removed, you probably won't notice any major side effects. It might cause menopause to start a little earlier and have a small impact on your fertility, but many women still manage to conceive successfully with just one ovary.”

anna clare gynaecologist Perth
Dr Anna Clare

Perth gynaecologist

Overall, the recovery process is manageable, and we are here to guide you every step of the way. If you have any concerns or questions during your recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. 

Ovarian cyst ultrasound

Woom in Perth for ovarian cysts treatment

Getting a good ultrasound is really important for figuring out and managing ovarian cysts. I’ll work closely with your GP to create a plan that fits your needs, based on your symptoms, ultrasound results, and any necessary blood tests. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to have a plan just for you. 

If you have any questions or worries about ovarian cysts, please reach out to me or your GP. I’m here to help you and make sure you get the best care possible.

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