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Ovarian Cysts: What Every Women Should Know

I've heard of ovarian cysts, I'm sure you have too. Do you know how they form? Are they something I need to worry about?

Every month, if you're not using a form of birth control that prevents ovulation, one ovary produces 1 egg (occasionally more, which is how we get fraternal twins and triplets). When you ovulate, a cyst-like structure called a follicle is formed inside your ovary. When the egg is released, the follicle bursts. Usually the remaining tissue just dissolves and is absorbed by the body. Occasionally it doesn't, and that's what causes functional ovarian cysts.

Functional ovarian cysts are basically small fluid-filled sacs and are quite common for women to get during their reproductive years. The cysts often shrink and disappear on their own within 2 or 3 menstrual cycles.

You may experience a full or bloated feeling, pressure, or a dull ache in your lower back, belly, or thighs. They can also cause breast tenderness, nausea, or weight gain. Who knew a little cyst can cause all that?

Woman who take the birth control pill or other systemic hormonal treatment usually don't experience ovarian cysts (and the pain that comes from them), because they aren't ovulating.

There are other, more serious forms of ovarian cysts known as Dermoid cysts, Endometrioma Cysts, Cystadenoma Cysts, and Polycystic Ovarian Disease. These cysts can develop from an imbalance of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone). These can grow to be very large (like the one shown in the picture), and can cause severe pain. If found, chances are high that a doctor will recommend removing immediately.

Fit's Tips: If you experience severe pain during intercourse, during menstruation, or have swelling in your abdomen, you should see your doctor immediately. They may prescribe oral contraceptives to help shrink the cyst. Surgery may also be an option if the hormone treatment doesn't work.

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