Ovarian cysts are relatively common among women. Most are harmless and do not require any treatment. Complex ovarian cysts, on the other hand, are less common and more worrisome. Complex ovarian cysts are so-called because unlike their simple counterparts, they have both solid and liquid components. Complex ovarian cysts can be broken down into three common types: dermoid cysts, endometrioma, and cystadenomas.
The cells that produce human eggs, otherwise know as ova can begin to form what is known as a dermoid cyst. The cells within the ova are the basic building blocks of every type of tissue that grows within the human body. This is why hair, skin and even teeth tissue can be found within dermoid cysts. While generally no cause for concern due to their low chance of becoming cancerous they can still be very painful as they grow, possibly twisting the ovaries.
A type of complex ovarian cyst which occurs when a woman has endometriosis is called an “endometrioma”. Women with endometriomas suffer from uterine cells that grow outside the uterus and become attached to their ovaries, creating a growth after several periods. An endometrial cyst could become very large, reaching the size of a tennis ball or even bigger. This disease may be partially blamed on genetics. The symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, pain before or after one’s period or during intercourse, painful urination or bowel movements, general tiredness and erratic menstrual cycles.
Developing from ovarian tissue, cystadenomas are complex ovarian cysts that can be filled mainly with liquid and have a tendency to twist in the ovary producing sever pain. There are two different types of cystadenomas, serous and mucinous. Serous are filled with a thin fluid and are know to grow between 2 and 6 inches in diameter. Mucinous on the other hand have a core of thick, gelatin like liquid and grow from 6 to 12 inches in diameter.
While complex ovarian cysts frequently cause pain and other obvious signs as they develop in size, such symptoms can be similar to those of endometriosis or an ectopic pregnancy. Women who suffer from complex ovarian cysts frequently feel discomfort in the pelvis around their periods and during sexual activity. In addition, they may have menstrual problems including abnormal bleeding or cessation of menstruation. Complex ovarian cysts may also cause symptoms similar to those experienced during pregnancy, including breast tenderness, vomiting and nausea.
As a general rule, ovarian cysts can usually be diagnosed with a manual pelvic exam by your doctor. Once they have a basic idea of what they are looking for, doctors will ask for a pelvic ultrasound to be preformed to better understand the situation and double check their findings. Pregnancy tests are also common tests to be preformed due to many of the same symptoms of pregnancy and ovarian cysts being similar. Once a diagnosis of complex ovarian cysts has been made it is very important that any time you experience severe pain in the pelvic or abdominal area you contact your doctor right away.
A woman’s age and symptoms are sometimes considered in making a diagnosis of complex ovarian cysts. Although not all ovarian cysts are cancerous, complex ovarian cysts must be tested to rule out cancer and to determine an appropriate course of treatment.