Many women will develop ovarian cysts at some point throughout their lives. They can be categorized as fluid-filled pockets or sacs which form inside or on the surface of one or both of the ovaries.
While the term ‘cyst’ might alarm the uninitiated amongst us, most ovarian cysts are in fact painless and cause absolutely no symptoms. However, despite being harmless most of the time, many widespread myths continue to exist regarding this common medical condition. Here, we help to dispel the four most widely believed.
Myth 1: All cysts require surgical removal
In the majority of cases, surgery won’t be necessary, since most cysts are benign and will go away on their own without the need for medical interference. However, where they are abnormally large, of a specific type (dermoid or endometriomas), are causing debilitating symptoms or appear to be suspicious of cancer, then ovarian cyst removal surgery may be the recommended treatment option. It is, therefore, a good idea to find out the size and nature of the cyst to determine the best course of action.
Myth 2: Ovarian cysts cause infertility
This is one of the most searched queries relating to ovarian cysts, with many people falsely believing there is a link between cysts and infertility.
Generally speaking, having a cyst on the ovary does not affect one’s chances of falling pregnant, which is why a doctor will typically only investigate when a couple has been unsuccessfully trying to conceive naturally for at least a year.
However, in a small number of cases, an ovarian cyst can become infected, resulting in scarring of the fallopian tubes which may lead to fertility problems. Moreover, long-term conditions which are closely associated with ovarian cysts, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, can affect one’s chances of becoming pregnant.
Myth 3: Ovarian cysts mean ovarian cancer
While it’s true that some cysts can be cancerous, the majority are entirely harmless and pose no threat to our health. More often than not, people are blissfully unaware that they even have ovarian cysts, with most incidences being accidentally discovered through routine pelvic examinations. In a tiny percentage of people, the cyst may be deemed cancerous, in which case it will be surgically removed.
Myth 4: Ovarian cysts only affect older women
One commonly held belief is that ovarian cysts can only occur after the menopause, when in fact, they may develop at any point in a woman’s life, even during childhood. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out that when cysts are detected in post-menopausal women, tests should be carried out to rule out ovarian cancer, which is more likely to transpire in older women.
Educating yourself about the facts and fiction surrounding ovarian cysts, as well as discussing your concerns with a trusted GP or gynecologist is the best way to ease any negative thoughts you might hold about this common, mostly harmless condition.