The ovaries are organs of the female reproductive system producing the female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) necessary for a woman’s menstrual cycle, pregnancy and overall health. Ovaries release an egg every month during a woman’s reproductive years and before the egg is released it forms a small sac called a follicle – if the follicle doesn’t break to release the fluid inside of it, a follicular ovarian cyst may develop. If there is bleeding inside the follicle, it may result in a hemorrhagic ovarian cyst.
Ovarian tumors are cysts that are not part of the menstrual cycle and they can be either solid or filled with fluid, or both. This type of tumors usually require surgical removal. Some of the most common ovarian cysts and tumors are: Endometrioma (filled with thick endometriotic fluid), Fibroma (solid ovarian tumor resembling a fibroid), Dermoid Tumor (with cystic + solid components), Mucinous Cystadenoma (contains mucous material), Serous Cystadenoma (with yellow fluid).
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a condition usually present because of hormonal imbalance and it causes development of small, benign cysts on the ovaries, leading to an irregular menstrual cycle and elevated levels of male hormone.
A pelvic mass is a general term referring to any growth or tumor on the ovary or in the pelvis and it can be cystic (cystadenoma), solid (fibroma), or both (dermoid). It can also be benign or malignant.
Ovarian cysts are usually harmless and do not produce symptoms. If they get larger, if they twist or burst, they may cause problems and that is when immediate treatment is needed. Common symptoms in these case are abnormal bleeding, ache in lower back or thighs, pelvic pain with intercourse, heaviness in abdomen and nausea or vomiting, pressure on bowel and difficulty emptying the bladder completely etc.
Ovarian cysts are examined via ultrasound to determine the shape, size and composition and establish the correct diagnosis and management of the condition. While fluid-filled cysts are less likely to be cancerous and usually require observation only, cysts that are solid or mixed may need to be further examined to determine if cancer is present and most often require surgical treatment. MRIs are usually performed for solid tumors while blood tests are reserved for pregnancy tests and to determine hormone levels.
Dr. Paul J. MacKoul, MD at The Center for Innovative GYN Care provides innovative, minimally invasive options for the surgical removal of ovarian cysts and pelvic masses. Laparoscopic procedures are very effective for masses and ovarian cysts, with many benefits. They allow the patient to avoid large incisions and have a very quick recovery. Non-cancerous cysts of the ovary can usually be removed with preservation of the ovary, while very large masses or endometriomas may require removal of the entire ovary and fallopian tube.
Learn more about Dr. Paul MacKoul at CIGC and the least invasive options for gyn surgery provided in the world today.