Ovarian Cysts

ovarian cysts teenager

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts, also known as adnexal masses in Singapore, are usually growths caused by ovulation. They may manifest in the form of sacs of fluids or solid masses and are usually found on the ovaries. Ovarian cysts are common and do not necessarily cause issues all the time.

Most cysts are benign and are usually functional cysts that have tendencies to shrink and disappear on their own over time. Types of functional cysts include follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts. However, certain types of ovarian cysts may cause health complications and require medical and surgical interventions.

Complication-inducing cysts may include:

  • Endometriomas: cystic lesions made up of endometrial tissues and are associated with endometriosis.
  • Mucinous cystadenomas: usually benign, these cysts may cause complications if they develop into tumours. Ovarian cystadenoma can occasionally progress into cancer.
  • Dermoid cysts: cysts containing hair, teeth, or skin tissues. Whilst mostly benign, ovarian dermoid cysts may cause complications if they grow in size.
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Ovarian cysts tend to affect women of all ages and may even grow in infants and foetuses. Medical intervention is typically focused on the prevention of haemorrhages and ruptures as it presents a risk of structural damage to the ovaries.

Ovarian cysts management efforts may also include a reduction of the risk of progression to cancer. Whilst ovarian cysts are mostly benign, in the case of post-menopausal women, the chances of malignant cysts are higher. Specifically in Singapore, the prevalence of ovarian cancer has been increasing, thus, it is important that regular screenings are conducted for early detection and prevention.

What are the common causes of Ovarian Cysts in Singapore?

The growth of ovarian cysts can be attributed to a few causes:

  • Menstrual cycle: follicular cysts are natural developments caused by the release of eggs during ovulation. These typically go away on their own. 
  • Hormone imbalance: when eggs are not released due to hormonal imbalances, it causes follicles to remain closed during ovulation and evolve into cysts.
  • Infections: bacterial infections that spread between the ovaries and the fallopian tube may lead to the formation of cysts.
inflammation fallopian tube ovaries

What are the usual symptoms for Ovarian Cysts in Singapore?

Symptoms of ovarian cysts include:

  • Pains: such as period pains, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse are symptoms some may experience due to an ovarian cyst.
  • Urinary incontinence: overflow incontinence is where the urinary bladder does not completely empty leading to uncontrollable urine dribbles.
  • Menstruation problems: menstrual problems such as excessive bleeding during menstruation(menorrhagia), irregular periods, and having periods that are persistently lighter than usual are all signs of menstruation problems.
  • Digestive issues: individuals with digestive issues are often faced with bloated stomach or a sensation of fullness despite low consumption of food.
  • Reproductive disorders: infertility or having difficulties conceiving are also symptoms of ovarian cysts.

If you notice any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment today to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Are Ovarian Cysts painful?

Typically, ovarian cysts are painless and individuals are often asymptomatic. Where pain is present, it is usually described as a pain that intensifies when menstruating. Patients have also reported pain radiating to the thighs and lower back from the pelvic region. In cases where patients present acute and sharp pain, an indication of ovarian rupture is found during further investigation.

Who is at risk of Ovarian Cysts in Singapore?

Any female can be affected by ovarian cysts, however, there are several factors that may increase the risk, these are:

  • Age: women of reproductive age and adolescents are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts.
  • Pregnancy: while females who are pregnant have a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts, the cysts are usually benign and tend to not cause any harm to mothers or their foetuses.
  • Family history: one may be genetically predisposed if a history of ovarian cysts is prevalent in their family.
  • Underlying health conditions: medical conditions such as endometriosis  and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) predisposes one to ovarian cysts growth.
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How are Ovarian Cysts diagnosed?

Ovarian cysts can be diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Pelvic examination: your obstetrician/gynaecologist may attempt to physically feel if there are any lumps or masses in the pelvic region.
  • Blood tests: would be conducted to evaluate CA125 level (cancer antigens). This does not definitively prove ovarian cancer but can provide hints to underlying issues such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or a possible incidence of cyst haemorrhage or rupture.
  • Imaging tests: a transvaginal ultrasound would show if there is a formation of cysts. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be additionally requested to eliminate suspicion of tumours or cancer.
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy: a laparoscopy would enable your obstetrician/gynaecologist to obtain a clearer image of the cysts before conducting a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy.

What are the treatment options available for Ovarian Cysts in Singapore?

Ovarian cysts can be treated in the following ways:

  • Observation period: “watchful waiting” is administered to observe if conditions improve, unless the case presented is acute. This would involve follow-up blood tests and imaging tests.
  • Surgery: laparoscopic surgery, namely, a laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy would be administered to remove cysts surgically if symptoms persist and remain unresolved.
  • Hormone therapy and contraceptives: may be prescribed to reduce the likelihood of cysts regrowth. These would also help address symptoms such as heavy menstrual flows.

Frequently asked questions

Is there medication to shrink ovarian cysts?

Medications such as hormonal pills will not shrink ovarian cysts. One may attempt to make dietary changes to improve symptoms such as reducing high-fat food to achieve healthier hormone levels.

What size of ovarian cysts is dangerous?

Cysts over the size of 5 cm may cause symptoms of pain and discomfort thus removal would be advised. These are not necessarily dangerous. Ovarian cysts are deemed dangerous only if they are malignant.

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