Ovarian cysts 

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac of tissue that develops inside an ovary. Find out about the symptoms it can cause, the long-term effects and the treatment options.

Find out more about ovarian cysts

Transcript of Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled cells

that occur within the ovary.

What happens is, the cell fills with fluid,

the fluid is able to get in, but can't get out.

This here depicts a normal ovary

whereas on the other side here what we see is an ovary with a cyst on it.

For the majority of women who happen to have ovarian cysts

there is nothing to be worried about

because the majority of cysts, as they do occur naturally,

will go away in time.

And it's only the minority of women who have cysts

that will go on to become cancerous or have accidents.

Usually the symptoms are what we call chronic symptoms.

So you have a niggling pain

which is usually located to one side of the lower abdomen

and sometimes in the pelvis.

It may well be related to different phases in the menstrual cycle,

depending what type of cyst it is.

And because of the anatomy of the cyst

some women actually describe pain that comes on and off

that radiates down the leg.

Some women also find that they will have pain,

particularly on one side, during intercourse.

In the extreme, however, some women will notice sort of pressure symptoms

if the cyst has grown to a very large size.

So they will have problems with their bowel, problems with their bladder

and other sort of pressure symptoms.

Others might notice weight gain

and some women in the extreme might notice a little bit of weight loss.

And those are usually indicators

that something needs to be done about the cyst.

But the majority of women shouldn't worry about cancer.

Before the menopause very few cysts are cancerous.

Then after the menopause a lot of them can be cancerous,

so that is when we normally pay attention to them.

It's important that when women do get symptoms

that they visit their GPs early

so that GPs can organise for them to have scans and blood tests.

The symptoms are not symptoms that should be ignored.

Once the scan is done and the blood test done

and the pointer is that the cyst is benign,

the GP or doctor looking after them might advise that they wait a while

and have another scan.

And should the cyst clear up, that is usually the end of the matter

with very little risk of recurrence.

And if it doesn't clear up, then intervention may well be required.

If the cyst is of a certain size, you may be advised to have a laparoscopy.

That is done under general anaesthetic

and all it involves is putting a little camera

through a very small incision under the belly button

and that allows the doctors to look at both tubes and both ovaries

to make sure that everything is OK.

So that's a cyst there.

And basically what has happened is the cyst has twisted on itself.

And if that were to stay there for a very long time

then the ovary will be starved of blood supply and kill itself.

But luckily enough, this woman has presented early.

If they do find that there is a cyst on the ovary

they then proceed to remove the cyst laparoscopically.

For the majority of women this operation will take between 30 and 45 minutes.

It allows a quick recovery and has no detrimental effect on future fertility.

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