What causes ovarian cysts?
- Polycystic ovaries. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the follicles in which the eggs normally mature fail to open and cysts form.
- Endometriomas. In women with endometriosis, tissue from the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body. This includes the ovaries. It can be very painful and can affect fertility.
- Cystadenomas. These cysts form out of cells on the surface of the ovary. They are often fluid-filled.
- Dermoid cysts. This type of cyst contains tissue similar to that in other parts of the body. That includes skin, hair, and teeth.
What causes ovarian tumors?
- Epithelial cell tumors start from the cells on the surface of the ovaries. These are the most common type of ovarian tumors.
- Germ cell tumors start in the cells that produce the eggs. They can either be benign or cancerous. Most are benign.
- Stromal tumors originate in the cells that produce female hormones.
- Age -- specifically women who have gone through menopause
- Not having children or not breastfeeding (however, using birth control pills seems to lower the risk)
- Taking fertility drugs (such as Clomid)
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Family or personal history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer (having the BRCA gene can increase the risk)
What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts and tumors?
- Pain or bloating in the abdomen
- Difficulty urinating, or frequent need to urinate
- Dull ache in the lower back
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Painful menstruation and abnormal bleeding
- Weight gain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite, feeling full quickly
What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
What are hormones, and what happens in PCOS?
- The sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
- The body may have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn't use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
- Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
- Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
- Thinning hair on the scalp.
- Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
- Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
What causes PCOS?
How is PCOS diagnosed?
- Ask questions about your past health, symptoms, and menstrual cycles.
- Do a physical exam to look for signs of PCOS, such as extra body hair and high blood pressure. The doctor will also check your height and weight to see if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Do a number of lab tests to check your blood sugar, insulin, and other hormone levels. Hormone tests can help rule out thyroid or other gland problems that could cause similar symptoms.