The appearance of dermoid ovarian cysts is so strange that when they were first discovered, people started referring to them as little monsters. This is the reason why they are also called ovarian teratomas.
Where the mature cystic teratoma name came from
Teratoma is a name that is derived from the greek word teras. And teras is a word that means monster.
While it might sound as sort of an overreach to refer to mere cystic growths in the ovaries as monsters, it is actually not. Consider this: they sort of appear where they are not supposed to and they can sometimes not only have hair, mature skin tissues, bones and even eyes, but can also grow into large cysts. In most cases, they look like half-formed babies.
And it’s not like they appear a result of conception gone wrong – this might have made sense. No. These cysts can grow in the ovaries of any woman who is of a childbearing age. In fact, they are the most common type of cysts that develop in women below the age of 20.
Why the weird dermoid ovarian cyst characteristics?
It all has to do with how the ovarian cysts form.
According to MedicineNet, these types of ovarian cysts form from germ cells that have the ability to develop into almost any tissues.
For some reason, the germ cell is sometimes trapped within the ovary. And with time, the cell gives rise to multiple cells that eventually end up forming one or more fully-formed tissues. The cells can develop into recognizable hair tissues, they can form blood, fat tissues, mature skin, bones and so on.
There is even a documented case where the germ cell ended up giving rise to brain cells – this led to serious complications especially when the woman’s immune system decided to take action against the cystic teratoma that had formed in her ovaries.
Less severe symptoms of ovarian cysts
Despite the “monster” name and despite their appearance, dermoid cysts are usually more forgiving when it comes to displaying symptoms of ovarian cysts. Most women with the cysts rarely even know that they have them. And in most cases, they are usually discovered by accident.
This has something to do with the fact that they are usually small in size. It also helps that they have a slow growth rate. All this usually helps to ensure that their presence in the female reproductive system causes minimal disruption.
Increased risks of ovarian torsion
However, despite the likelihood of dermoid ovarian cysts and your reproductive system having peaceful coexistence, these cysts can sometimes turn unfriendly. This is because, as noted by both MedicineNet and Radiopaedia, these cysts have a high tendency of causing ovarian torsion, which is a serious medical condition that calls for immediate medical attention.
Ovarian torsion and the increased risks of infertility
Ovarian torsion is a complication of the female reproductive system. Simply put, it refers to the twisting of the ovaries.
This twisting usually blocks the flow of blood to the tissues of the ovary. Blocked or restricted blood flow means that ovarian tissues don’t get oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, without immediate medical attention, it is a condition that can lead to the death of a woman’s ovaries.
Dermoid ovarian cysts increase the likelihood of this condition occurring. The fact that about 15% of all dermoid ovarian cyst cases usually involve the cysts growing in both ovaries only makes these cysts bad news for women who have hopes of getting pregnant.
Maybe they deserve the monster cyst tag after all
These cysts got their name because of the way they look. And while they rarely cause severe ovarian cyst symptoms, the fact that they show a tendency to cause ovarian torsion – which can cause permanent infertility – might as well mean that dermoid ovarian cysts have earned the cystic teratoma name.