signs and symptoms of cystic growths in the ovaries -reproductive system

27 Ovarian Cyst Symptoms Every Woman Needs to Know

What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts? Can they affect your weight? Can they mess with your menstrual periods? Do they cause pain during sex? How about after sex? If I experience pain after sex, does it still fall under ovarian cyst symptoms? And is it true that ovarian cysts can sometimes affect the rate at which a person’s hair grows?

Questions about ovarian cyst symptoms abound. And it’s not that people are clueless when it comes to the signs of ovarian cysts. It’s just that the information is all over the place.

dermoid ovarian cyst prevention

Yes, almost every leading online medical website has information on the symptoms. The only problem is that the lists of the symptoms are never exhaustive. And so you ask yourself: if WebMD, in an article reviewed by a doctor, lists only  8 symptoms of cysts on ovaries, what does it say about the other symptoms you have read about?

Instead of having to wonder. And instead of having to spend time digging through internet pages trying to find an exhaustive list or a place that can just answer one simple question: is what I am experiencing a symptom of ovarian cysts? And instead of trying to remember a place where you last saw a certain cyst on ovary symptom, read this list. It’s exhaustive.

The list has been compiled from the top online medical websites. We are talking about Mayo Clinic, WebMD, WomensHealth.Gov, Hopkins Medicine, Health Line, Medical News Today, MedicineNet, NIH.Gov, eMedicine Health and NHS.UK.

Here is the exhaustive list of ovarian cyst symptoms (all 27):

  1. Abdominal swelling ( a swollen tummy)
  2. Difficulty emptying your bowels / painful bowel movements
  3. Pelvic pain before or during menstrual cycle – may be persistent or intermittent- may range from a dull, heavy sensation to a sudden, severe and sharp pain; may start and stop; may occur after any strenuous activity
  4. Painful intercourse /sex – dyspareunia – for some women
  5. Pain and discomfort in the abdomen after sex
  6. Pain in the lower back – dull ache
  7. Breast tenderness
  8. Nausea
  9. Vomiting
  10. Fever
  11. Faintness or dizziness
  12. Rapid breathing
  13. Frequent need to urinate
  14. Feeling very full after only eating a little
  15. Difficulty getting pregnant
  16. Irregular menstrual periods
  17. Feeling of lower abdominal or pelvic pressure or fullness
  18. Vaginal pain
  19. Spotty vaginal bleeding
  20. Infertility
  21. Painful menstruation
  22. Unexplained weight gain
  23. Loss of appetite
  24. Absence of menstrual bleeding – emenorrhea
  25. Heavy bleeding (menorrhagia)
  26. Hallucinations (this one is extra rare. It happened in this case.)
  27. Change in hair growth – on the face, body – caused by increased production of masculinizing hormone (hirsutism).

 


That is a long list.

How about we break the symptoms into groups.

5 groups makes sense. How about:

1. Discomfort caused by ovarian cysts

Ovarian cyst symptoms that manifest as discomfort usually occur because of two main reasons:

a) Large ovarian cysts that press against adjacent organs like the bladder

b) Hormonal changes that may result from the presence of cysts in the ovaries – ovaries are one of the most important hormonal production centers in the body especially when it comes to pregnancy related hormones. It is no wonder that some of the symptoms of ovarian cysts usually mimic pregnancy symptoms. There are even cases of ovarian-cyst-induced symptoms making women think that they are pregnant.

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. A feeling of fullness in the abdominal area
  4. Breast tenderness

2. Pain caused by ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts usually cause pain when they become too large – something that causes them to squeeze tissues and organs out of their original space – or when complications of ovarian cysts develop.

MedicineNet lists four possible instances when ovarian cysts cause pain:

  1. rapid growth and stretching
  2. rupture of the cyst
  3. twisting of the cyst around its blood supply (known as torsion), or
  4. bleeding into the cyst

As for ovarian cyst pain symptoms, here they are:

  1. Pelvic pain
  2. Painful periods
  3. Vaginal pain
  4. Pain during intercourse/sex
  5. Back pain – lower back
  6. Pain after sex – in the abdominal area
  7. Pain during bowel movements

3. Changes caused by ovarian cysts

Most of these changes are caused because of the hormonal imbalance that cysts in ovaries may cause. Some, like the need to urinate more often, result when a large cyst presses against an organ. While others, like infertility, more often than not, result either in the course of ovarian cyst treatment or when complications of ovarian cysts, like ovarian torsion, occur.

  1. An increase in the need to urinate
  2. Excessive bleeding during menstruation
  3. Irregular periods
  4. Unexplained weight gain
  5. Increase in the rate of hair growth
  6. Absence of menstrual bleeding
  7. Light vaginal spotting
  8. Difficulty getting pregnant
  9. Infertility
  10. Swollen tummy – distended stomach

4. You-Need-To-See-A-Doctor-Immediately ovarian cyst symptoms

These are serious symptoms that tend to occur when ovarian cyst complications develop. They can occur with one or more of the above symptoms and when they do, you should definitely seek immediate medical attention. Failure to do so could have devastating consequences. Even death.

  1. Severe or sharp pelvic pain
  2. Fever
  3. Dizziness
  4. Rapid breathing

5. Super-rare symptoms of ovarian cysts

Hallucinations

A woman experienced hallucinations when the cysts in her ovaries developed brain cells. This then triggered an immune system reaction that led to her immune system attacking her brain. You can read the story here.

Difficulty breathing

In a case reported in LiveScience, a 57 year old woman had a cyst that was so large that it had pushed against her diaphragm. This messed with her breathing. Here’s the story.

 

ovarian teratoma and conception pregnancy complications

Can a dermoid ovarian cyst cause infertility?

Dermoid cysts sometimes grow in the ovaries. And given that ovaries play a central role when it comes to conception, the question that every woman with the cysts asks is: can dermoid ovarian cysts affect their ability to get pregnant? And, do they affect pregnancy?

Normal dermoid ovarian cysts and infertility

Do dermoid ovarian cysts cause infertility?

Dermoid cysts are usually small. They also grow slowly. This makes for cystic growths whose presence is rarely noticed by the female reproductive system. It is for this reason that these cysts on ovaries tend to be asymptomatic – rarely cause ovarian cyst symptoms – and are often discovered incidentally.

Given the fact that they are usually too small to bother the functioning of a woman’s reproductive system, there is really no reason to assume that they can cause infertility or make it harder for a woman to get pregnant.

According to Mayo Clinic, in an article by Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D., ” … dermoid cysts aren’t associated with infertility.” The only exception provided being cases where the cysts on ovaries become very large.

In a study reported in the American Academy of Family Physicians, 32% of the women in the study managed to get pregnant in spite of having dermoid cysts in their ovaries. A significant number of women with dermoid cysts in their ovaries were also able to give birth in this study.

Therefore, normal dermoid cysts that don’t have accelerated growth, that don’t develop complications, and which are not cancerous – and therefore don’t require surgery – are not detrimental so far as getting pregnant is concerned.

Large dermoid cysts and getting pregnant

 

Can large ovarian cysts cause infertility?

There are times when dermoid ovarian cysts grow faster than usual. They can therefore become too large to go unnoticed. This will give rise to some of the symptoms generally associated with ovarian cysts. A woman with large dermoid cysts is therefore likely to experience most of  the symptoms of ovarian cysts like heaviness, abdominal/pelvic pain, breast tenderness and an increase in the frequency of the need to urinate.

But that is not all that a large dermoid cyst can do to the human body. When the cysts becomes too large, they affect the functioning of the reproductive system. They can form physical barriers that make it impossible for fertilization to take place or they can affect the functioning of the ovaries and sometimes even the entire female reproductive system.

Take the case of a 57 year old woman whose case was reported in the Journal of Medical Case Reports. She had a large ovarian cyst, but she didn’t know. And even when the cystic growth grew to such an extent that it caused her to have difficulty breathing and even increased her weight, she didn’t suspect a thing. It was only after paying a visit to the doctor that she realized the source of her discomfort and the damage that the large cyst had done. According to LiveScience, the ovarian cyst “… was so big that it had shoved her uterus to the side, squished her abdominal contents and extended all the way up to her diaphragm.”

Her’s was an extreme case. And the cyst on her ovary wasn’t a dermoid cyst. And her’s is also an extreme and extra-rare case of large ovarian cysts. But it gives you a sense of the damage that ovarian cysts, including dermoid cysts, can do to the human body when they grow out of control.

 

Dermoid ovarian torsion and infertility

ovarian teratoma and pregnancy

Ovarian torsion, which is a fancy word for the twisting of the ovaries, is the most common complication in women with dermoid cysts. So, can it affect the ability of a woman to conceive?

What ovarian torsion does is that it restricts blood flow to the ovaries. This means that at the onset of this complication, oxygen and nutrient supply to ovarian tissues is usually limited. Over time, this can lead to damaged ovarian tissues. It can also cause a woman’s ovary to completely die.

Ovaries produce the eggs that are needed for conception. They are also responsible for the production of pregnancy hormones. Therefore, if you have a damaged ovary in your reproductive system, the chances of getting pregnant will significantly reduce. This complication will cause difficulty in getting pregnant.

Dermoid ovarian cyst rupture and infertility

ovarian teratoma and pregnancy

There is a 1-4% risk of a dermoid ovarian cyst rupturing. This is a serious condition that usually demands immediate medical attention because in addition to the severe abdominal and pelvic pain that results from the cyst burst, there is also an increased risk of infection. This usually occurs because of the fluid that is released into the female reproductive system after the rupture.

This infection can lead to many complications. Some of them can cause getting pregnant problems. For example, if the infection causes scarring, it may end up blocking the fallopian tubes. This may make it impossible for conception to occur. Scarring may also lead to pregnancy complications. An ectopic pregnancy is one of these.

Dermoid cysts, ovarian cancer and infertility

ovarian teratoma and pregnancy

If traces of cancerous cells are detected in a dermoid ovarian cyst, removal of the cyst on ovary may be necessary. And to avoid the spread of the cancer, doctors may also decide to remove the ovaries.

If the surgical removal of a woman’s ovary is necessary to avoid the spread of cancer cells, then this will reduce her chances of getting pregnant. If both ovaries are removed, then this may lead to permanent infertility.

This does not however mean that every case of dermoid ovarian cyst malignancy needs to end with the infertility. It is possible to remove dermoid cysts that show signs of cancer without damaging the ovaries.

Surgical removal of dermoid ovarian cysts and infertility

 

This may be necessary in cases where the ovarian teratoma is growing out of control. It may also be necessary in order to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the female reproductive system. Some of the rare complications of dermoid ovarian cysts may also make this necessary.

Whichever the case, surgical removal of the cystic growths puts your fertility at risk.

Doubled risk of infertility because of dermoid cysts

Dermoid ovarian cysts have a tendency of growing in both ovaries – at least in 10-15% of the cases. This puts both ovaries at risk when any of the above complications arise.

Answer to: Can a dermoid cyst cause infertility?

ovarian teratoma and pregnancy

The answer is: yes it can.

But this is not always the case.

It only does so when it grows to such an extent that it starts interfering with the functioning of the female reproductive system. Or when complications arise.

Most ovarian teratomas (dermoid cysts) are small in size. The risks of complications arising because of the cysts are slim. Therefore, if you have dermoid ovarian cysts, the odds are in your favor.There is a good chance that you can still get pregnant.

natural prevention cure for cancerous dermoid cysts

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