It is a well-accepted fact that ovarian cysts are not dangerous – at least most of the time. Nothing makes this clearer than the fact that although they are common in women, very few women ever realize that they have them. Why? Because in most cases, ovarian cysts usually appear and disappear without interfering with a woman’s reproductive system.
But there are times when cysts on ovaries decide to be horrible guests. They not only overstay but also do all they can to make a woman’s life miserable. They can cause serious symptoms such as ovarian pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, infertility and pain during sex. And now it turns out that they can also cause mental illness.
Ovarian cysts causing hallucinations?
Cysts in the ovaries can mess with your brain.
Granted, this is not a common ovarian cyst symptom. But it is a symptom that can occur in some extreme cases. And thanks to a Monsters Inside Me episode, there is a documented case of a woman who was admitted to hospital because of hallucinations that were caused by ovarian cysts.
It all started with Kiera Echol being rushed to hospital. Her family was hopeful that the doctors could help them deal with the psychiatric disease that had suddenly held their daughter captive.
But four weeks in, nothing seemed to work. Her hallucinations were getting worse by the day and the doctors had no clue what was actually happening.
For her mother, it was devastating. Her daughter was endlessly screaming. And there was nothing she could do except watch as her daughter sunk deeper and deeper into what was then an unknown hole. It was frightening.
But when the doctors finally carried out tests on her spinal fluid, they found something interesting. The antibodies in the sample revealed that what they had in their hands was far from a psychiatric case.
They discovered that the main cause of the hallucinations was an ovarian teratoma that had developed in her ovaries.
Understanding dermoid ovarian cysts/ ovarian teratoma
According to Radiopaedia.org, you can use either dermoid ovarian cyst or mature cystic teratoma to describe the type of cysts that caused the hallucinations.
In a nutshell, these are cystic growths that contain cells that can develop into almost any body part. It is this characteristic that is to blame for dermoid ovarian cysts having a reputation of containing skin tissues, teeth, parts of organs, bone, fat, blood, thyroid tissue, nails and even eyes.
What actually happened in this case
The undifferentiated cells (cells that can develop into anything) in her dermoid ovarian cysts didn’t end up forming teeth or hair or skin. They formed brain cells.
Her body found that unusual. And so it went on attack mode. Her immune system therefore produced antibodies to go get rid of the teratoma.
And that’s where the problem arose. For the immune system to get rid of the growth in her ovaries, it had to send antibodies that have specific instructions on what type of cells to destroy. This means that the antibodies that her immune system ended up releasing are ones designed to destroy brain cells – remember the teratoma has brain cells?
The antibodies travel through the blood stream. They are all on a teratoma-destroying mission. However, when they reach her brain, they find the same type of cells that they are supposed to destroy. They have their ‘’hey, wait a minute moment” which ends up with them attacking her brain.
That is what caused her hallucinations. Not some weird psychiatric condition.
It is a rare ovarian cyst symptom
Dermoid ovarian cysts are rare.
Dermoid ovarian cysts that end up with brain cells are even rarer.
Therefore, if you have ovarian cysts, the chances of you going mental are very slim.
Common ovarian cyst symptoms
They might cause your abdomen to bloat, bleeding between periods, pelvic pain and a host of other discomforts. But hallucinations? Well, that is a long shot. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t happen.