is a chronic condition in females that impacts 5-13% of those in the reproductive age group, that is, between 18-44 years of age. In India, this number has been found to be as high as one in every five Indian women (20%) and its incidence is only expected to increase in the future. If not treated promptly, the condition may have negative health consequences.
The goal of PCOS Awareness Month is to improve the lives of those affected by the condition. It calls for providing assistance to the ones suffering from PCOS and help them in overcoming their symptoms. Moreover, this works towards increasing awareness towards preventing and reducing their risks for more life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and even cancer.
Ovaries are a part of the female reproductive system that produces and releases eggs (oocytes) into the reproductive tract during ovulation that takes place roughly in the middle of each menstrual cycle. The ovaries also in charge of making the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. PCOS is the most common ovarian condition forming cysts; follicles of a polycystic ovary mature to a particular point, but stop growing and fail to release an egg during ovulation. On an ultrasound scan, these follicles show as cysts in the ovaries.
It is imperative to note here that PCOS represents only a type of ovarian cysts in females. This PCOS Awareness Month, let’s also find out about other kinds of ovarian cysts that may exist.
Functional cysts are non-harmful, normally painless and go away on their own after two or three menstrual cycles. There are two kinds of them:
They're fluid-filled pockets of tissue that form in one’s ovaries or even on its surface. They are more common in women of reproductive age and are caused when follicles fail to ovulate. It usually produces oestrogen and can grow up to the size of 5 cm in diameter. Follicular cysts in prepubescent girls are uncommon and may not be found in postmenopausal women.
The majority of follicular cysts are painless and non-harmful. They aren't malignant in any way. They usually go away on their own after a few menstrual cycles. One may be completely unaware that they have a follicular cyst. In rare situations, follicular cysts can cause issues that require medical care.
Corpus luteum cysts
A corpus luteum cyst is an ovarian cyst that develops in the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is a small, fluid-filled sac which is remnant of the developing follicle after the egg has released. It continues to expand rather than break down as it would if one weren't pregnant, resulting in this form of cyst. It is also known as a corpus luteal cyst and is a common pregnancy complication as the cyst continues to produce progesterone. These can arise at any moment, but they are most common during the reproductive years.
The other kinds of cysts which are not functional cysts are:
Endometriomas or Chocolate cysts
Endometriotic cysts are those that develop when cells typically present in the inner lining of the uterus (called endometrial lining) grow outside it. They may even be found inside the ovary – leading to the formation of endometriomas or chocolate cysts. Since these cells have the property to shed and bleed periodically (as in menstruation), cysts that form from these cells can lead to periodical accumulation of blood inside the cyst. The blood and debris thus collected causes inflammation and produces toxic products – this causes severe pain during periods, hampers egg quality, and even decreases the probability of becoming pregnant.
Research has found that about 30-50% women with endometriosis are infertile.
Dermoid cysts or teratomas are tumours in the ovary that typically contain a variety of tissues such as hair, teeth, bone, skin, and so on. Dermoid cysts can appear at any age, although they are more common in women who are of childbearing age. These cysts can twist (torsion) the ovary, jeopardising its blood supply. The larger the dermoid cyst, the greater the chance of it rupturing and spilling its content, which can cause adhesions, pain, and other issues. Although the vast majority of these tumours are benign (~98%), a small percentage (~2%) becomes cancerous.
Ovarian cystadenomas are a type of benign tumour that arises from the surface of the ovary. They might be filled with watery or mucous material, but generally have a good prognosis.
Females in the reproductive age group must get regular pelvic checks and be aware of the symptoms that could indicate ovarian cysts. Ultrasound is the best way to spot them early on, while hormonal tests and/or tumour markers, CT scan or MRI may be advised to find out the nature of the cyst.
The article has been authored by Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO & Co-Founde, Indira IVF.