Ovarian cysts are closed, sac-like structures within an ovary that contain a liquid, or semisolid substance.
According to a consultant gynaecologist with Wellspring Hospital Gwarimpa, Abuja, Dr Henry Osazuwa, ovarian cyst is relatively common in women of reproductive age and often due to the normal functioning of the ovary (functional cyst – follicular and corpus luteum).
He said there were no specific primary preventive measures because the cause was often unknown.
“Most occur as part of cycling changes during the menstrual cycle. Some are caused by fertility drugs such as Clomiphene citrate and FSH,” he said.
Dr Osazuwa added that emphasis is on the secondary prevention of complications, adding that once diagnosis of a cyst of significant size was made, appropriate follow up and specific treatment was essential to avoid torsion or hemorrhage.
“When presentation is acute with pain and peritoneal bleeding, prompt surgery prevents further complications,” he advised.
Dr Sam Ojah, a consultant gynaecologist also in Abuja, described ovarian cyst as a bag of water or a bag containing fluids which can be water, blood or any kind of fluid.
He said every normal woman of reproductive age produced a kind of cyst every month known as physiological or functional cyst.
He explained that there are normal cysts in every woman because ovarian follicle is what developed the follicular cyst and eventually ruptures to produce eggs. “That is to say that the egg is produced within the follicular cyst which would expel the egg for fertilization,” he added.
The gynaecologist said in a few instances, these follicles develop into cyst which ordinarily would not be bigger than 5cm in diameter and eventually burst on its own. He added that sometimes when that occurred one hears women complaining of ovulation pain.
Dr Ojah added that in a few instances, the ovary on its own develops cyst that begin to grow and become bigger than normal, which is the pathological cyst.
“The cyst can grow to bigger sizes which can fill up 32 litres container. Some are not cancerous while others can become cancerous after a long time. Therefore, any cyst in the ovary of a woman must be removed and subjected to histology test because we all know all forms of cancer are treatable when detected at the early stage of development but when it is advanced, there is nothing we can do,” he said.
He said though it is often said that ovarian cyst is not popular among Africans, however medical experts have been seen increasing cases in our locality.
According to Dr Ojah, if there is a cyst in the ovary of a woman of reproductive age, a part of it is removed and the tissue left behind because “if you do not leave the tissue, you are sending the lady to menopause because it is all the female hormones that makes it reproductive.”
They are less common after menopause. Postmenopausal women with ovarian cysts are at higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Some of the symptoms include, pelvic pain; this can range from a dull, heavy sensation to a sudden, severe and sharp pain, pain during sex, difficulty emptying the bowels, a frequent need to urinate, heavy periods, irregular periods or lighter periods than normal, bloating and a swollen tummy feeling among others.
Medical experts advice women to seek a doctor immediately they have sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain and pain with fever or vomiting.
Others include when then they feel cold, have rapid breathing or feel weak.