What Can I Do About Ovarian Cysts?
Published on 04/29/22
Most women are born with two almond shaped ovaries on each side of her uterus. These ovaries are considered small organs. They help to produce female hormones and they also house eggs that develop, mature, and then release in a 28 to 35 day cycle during her childbearing years. Ovarian cysts are sacs that develop in or on the ovary’s surface which can become filled with semisolid material or fluid.
These cysts can develop into several different types that often are a result of ovulation – called functional cysts. Some can be related to diseases that result from ovarian cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Many women may experience ovarian cysts at some point in their life. Most of which can go entirely unnoticed and are completely harmless. These will likely disappear on their own in a few months.
However, some ovarian cysts rupture and the symptoms that follow can signal a potential, more serious issue. Protect your health by talking to your healthcare provider about regular pelvic exams to be able to prevent future health problems.
Why Do We Get Ovarian Cysts?
Why women develop ovarian cysts is entirely unknown. However, it is known that most women will develop functional cysts that are just part of the monthly cycle. The two types of monthly cysts can develop into:
Follicle Cysts – a cyst that grows inside a small sac called the follicle. When it is time to release the egg, the follicle releases it. If the sac doesn’t open this can cause a follicle cysts. These tend to go away on their own in 1 to 3 months.
Corpus Luteum Cyst – once a follicle releases an egg and becomes empty, it normally shrinks until the next egg is ready. If a follicle closes back up and fluid collects inside, it may become a cysts. These can cause pain or bleeding as it starts to grow. These may take a few weeks to go away.
Other cysts that are nonfunctional, can be caused by PCOS. When the ovaries make a lot of small cysts, it can make it difficult to get pregnant. There is also a risk for cancer, which is higher in women who have already gone through menopause. Those cysts are at higher risk to be cancerous than those in younger women.
If your cyst is nonfunctional and develops much larger the result may be one of these symptoms:
- Feeling of fullness
- Painful periods
- Dull back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Additional symptoms that tend to be prolonged, may be associated with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS may cause:
- Irregular period
- Hormone-related periods
- Hirsutism – the increased growth of body hair
- Difficulty losing weight
There may be times where cysts cause an emergency situation. Call a doctor if you start to feel:
- Sudden and severe pain in the belly
- Pain with fever
- Quick breathing
- Feeling faint
In this case, this could mean that one of the ovaries has begun to twist due to the cyst.
So, What Can I Do About Ovarian Cysts?
With the causes being unknown, knowing what to do can vary depending on your symptoms and severity of the cyst. However, there are a few measurements you can take to help manage some of the symptoms an ovarian cyst may cause. Here are a few suggestions that may be of some use.
- Over the counter painkillers – if you’re dealing with any kind of mild pain or discomfort from ovarian cysts, you may be able to manage that pain with Advil, Tylenol, Midol, Aleve, etc. If you’re dealing with a more severe and long term pain, talk to your doctor about long term prescription drugs to help manage pain.
- Heat therapy – this is a common practice with women even dealing with period or PMS symptoms. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad to apply to the abdomen to help ease cramping and cyst pains. Along with hot compresses, a hot Epsom salt bath – known for its magnesium sulfate – can also help relieve your aching muscles.
- Magnesium based snacks – magnesium has been known to help with discomfort. Look for snacks like raw almonds that contain about 270 milligrams per serving to help supplement your diet to help with chronic pain.
- Chamomile Tea – chamomile is an ancient herb that has anti-inflammatory properties as well as helping to reduce anxiety and get better rest at night.
- Ginger Tea – another herb known for its pain relief – it is both anticarcinogenic and has antioxidant properties. Some studies have shown that even the dietary intake of ginger may be able to help treat and prevent ovarian cancer.
You don’t have to stop at basic pain management to help ease your symptoms. There are also some home remedies that might help ease your symptoms in the long term. There isn’t enough research to say these methods work definitively but they have been known to help prevent them from reoccurring or even reduce the cyst’s overall size.
For these suggestions be cautious, keep track of what you feel and make sure to communicate with your doctor throughout the process.
- Diet – diet is so important for most things – heart health, hormone balance, skin and bones, that what people don’t realize is that a simple diet change can do a lot of good in many areas. Not just for cysts. The food you consume may directly affect your cyst development. For the women who develop PCOS and end up dealing with irregular periods or very painful periods, may find those are not the only symptoms that seem prevalent. About 50% of women who develop PCOS are overweight or obese and research suggests that PCOS could be the link. Some women develop insulin resistance as a symptom and as a result, find it hard to lose weight. The best way to combat this is to adjust the diet. Avoiding foods that can contribute to insulin resistance can help manage weight gain and even help to lose weight. Try avoiding:
- Sugary foods like desserts, pastries and muffins
- Anything with white flour like white bread
- White potatoes
One of the best practices is to avoid filling up on processed foods, specifically carbs. Add foods to your diet that can help fight against insulin resistance. This will help manage the weight.
Find healthy foods such as:
- Lean proteins – the usual white fish, chicken, lean beef, tofu, etc.
- Anti-inflammatory foods and spices like chamomile and ginger, kale, olive oil, tomatoes, turmeric, almonds, etc.
- High fiber foods like berries, squash, broccoli, all kinds of greens, etc.
- Flaxseed to balance hormones – flax seeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have been known to help lower high androgen levels in women who have PCOS in limited research
- Maca Root supplement – another herb or plant that has potential to help regulate hormones, especially for women who are peri- or postmenopausal. More research is needed for ovarian cysts but when it comes to hormones, it could be an option.
Before adding anything to your diet, talk to your doctor to ensure those changes are the best for your needs. Some supplements or herbs can interact with medications and it’s best to talk to a physician or doctor for recommended dietary supplements and doctor approved manufacturers.
If you’re not sure and need additional help losing weight, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your weight or for referrals to resources like a dietitian.
How To Get Diagnosed For An Ovarian Cyst
There are a couple of ways your doctor can diagnose an ovarian cyst. First, they will need to rule out pregnancy as a cause for symptoms. Once pregnancy is ruled out, your doctor may use one of these tests to determine if you have an ovarian cyst.
Blood tests – these tests can break down hormone levels in the blood.
Ultrasound – with sound waves that can help create images of the body’s internal organs, this is an easy way to detect if there are any cysts on the ovaries.
Pelvic Exam – this occurs when the doctor widens the vagina with an instrument and examines the cervix/uterus for any changes or lumps that may have developed on any reproductive organs
Laparoscopy – a surgery that uses a small device inserted through a small cut in the abdomen. The device helps the doctor view the pelvic cavity and if a cyst is present, it can be removed at this time.
Managing and Treating Ovarian Cysts
Like previously mentioned, functional ovarian cysts mostly go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may suggest to watch and wait for changes. They may also prescribe you medicine to manage the pain. In certain cases, your doctor may recommend hormonal medications like birth control pills. These have the capability of preventing ovulation and future cysts from forming. Without ovulation, cysts cannot develop.
For certain ovarian cysts, surgery may be necessary. The type of surgery is based on the size and what it looks like on the ultrasound. In some cases, the surgeon can remove the cyst or the entire ovary in more severe scenarios.
You should consider calling your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:
- Your belly becomes enlarged and swollen
- Pain during intercourse
- You have irregular, painful or late periods
- You struggle to empty your bladder or urinate altogether
- You have abdominal pain that doesn’t go away
- You feel ill overall
- You are bloating
- You have pressure or discomfort in our abdomen
- You lose weight for no apparent reason
When It Comes To You and Ovarian Cysts
For certain women, trying at-home remedies can help to regulate hormones and ease any pain and discomfort in the long term. Although, take note that preventing cysts in the future hasn’t been proven.
If you feel you are experiencing concerning or more severe symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about the next steps in treating your ovarian cysts. This also ensures that they can help to diagnose any other underlying issues that may be affecting your ovaries and help to develop a treatment plan custom to your needs.
If You Think You’re Dealing With An Ovarian Cyst, Call The Doctors At Rosh MFM
Most women develop ovarian cysts during their lives, but may not be aware of it because the cysts disappear without causing symptoms.
Other ovarian cysts don’t resolve on their own. They grow large enough to cause pain or they may be associated with a condition like polycystic ovary syndrome. The doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine have extensive experience diagnosing ovarian cysts and determining the best treatment. If you have pelvic pain, please don’t wait to call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.