10 Things You Should Know About Dermoid Ovarian Cysts

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Knowledge is key when it comes to battling ovarian cysts. Knowing how cysts form, how they behave, their symptoms, what to do in order to get rid of them and whether or not to remove them – all this is important.

Dermoid ovarian cysts are a type of cystic growths that develop on or in the ovaries. Here are the 10 things that you should know about these types of cysts.

1. How popular are dermoid ovarian cysts?

According to Radiopaedia.org, these types of cysts account for about 10% to 20% of all ovarian cyst cases.

Keeping in mind that almost 80% of all childbearing women have cysts in their ovaries will help you keep things in perspective.

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2. How fast do dermoid ovarian cysts grow?

They usually grow very slowly. Their rate of growth is approximately about 1-2mm a year. This is one of the main reasons why removal of the cysts via surgery is rarely recommended.

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However, they can sometimes grow continuously to such an extent that they become a risk. In such cases, removal of the cysts may be necessary. This is however an option that you should resort to only when all other non-surgical methods do not work – including the wait-and-see method.

3. What is their major characteristic?

The main thing that sets dermoid cysts apart from other ovarian cysts is the fact that they form from undifferentiated cells – these are cells that can potentially develop into almost any tissue cells.

4. How do they look like?

Because of the fact that these ovarian cysts develop from undifferentiated cells, they tend to be very ugly to look at.

They can contain fully developed skin tissue, eyes, teeth, hair, thyroid tissue, traces of blood, fat, nails and other organs.

5. They are sometimes referred to as ovarian teratomas. Why is this?

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In an episode of Monsters Inside Me, Dan Riskin, a biologist, explains the reason why dermoid ovarian cysts got the name cystic teratomas.

He says that they got the name because of their appearance. They look like mini-monsters with all the teeth/hair/blood/bones/tissues that the cysts come with. Teratoma is a name that comes from the greek word teras, which means monster.

6. Who is most at risk of getting dermoid ovarian cysts?

These types of ovarian cysts usually appear in women below the age of 30. And according to Radiopaedia, they are the most common type of ovarian cysts in women who are below the age of 20.

7. Is surgery necessary when you have this type of ovarian cysts?

No.

Why? Because they are slow growing. A woman can therefore have these cysts without even knowing.

In fact, in most cases, they are usually discovered incidentally. This is because their slow growth rate and small size usually makes it possible for them to exist in the ovaries without disrupting the functioning of the female reproductive system.

Removing the ovarian cysts through surgery is therefore unnecessary in most of the cases. But this does not mean that it is totally off the table.

This is because there are cases where dermoid ovarian cysts become large. They can also grow at an abnormal rate. And they can sometimes also show signs of being cancerous. In such cases, surgery may be necessary.

8. How are dermoid cysts detected?

Like any other ovarian cysts, the best way to detect them is through an ultra sound.

Other methods of detecting dermoid ovarian cysts include the use of a conventional radiograph, a CT and a pelvic MRI.

9. What are the symptoms of dermoid ovarian cysts?

They are usually symptomless, especially when they are small.

When they grow, they exhibit most of the common signs of ovarian cysts. And since they are usually prone to ovarian cyst torsion, sharp pelvic pain tends to be one of the most common symptoms of the cysts.

Are they dangerous. If so, why?

No they are not. At least most of the time.

The only time that they may present a serious threat is when they cause ovarian torsion or grow too big or result in severe symptoms.

10. Are there any unusually extreme symptoms of dermoid cysts?

Yes. There is a case where dermoid ovarian cysts caused a woman to hallucinate. Doctors at first thought that they were dealing with a psychiatric case. They later realised that the hallucinations were caused by an ovarian teratoma that contained brain cells.

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