Growth in your uterus

Ovar­ian cysts and fi­broids are harm­less but oc­cur in most women.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - HEALTH - DR y.L.m. Dr YLM grad­u­ated as a med­i­cal doc­tor and has been writ­ing for many years on var­i­ous sub­jects such as medicine, health, com­put­ers and en­ter­tain­ment. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, e-mail starhealth@ thes­tar.com.my. The in­for­ma­tion con­tained in this co

R ecently, I went for a thor­ough gen­eral med­i­cal check-up. this in­cluded an ul­tra­sound of my pelvis. the doc­tor told me I had both an ovar­ian cyst and some large fi­broids. What are these and what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween them? Let’s start with ovar­ian cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs or pouches ei­ther in­side or on the sur­face of your ovary.

Fi­broids are tu­mours of the uterus. But be­fore you get wor­ried, these are non-can­cer­ous growths that of­ten ap­pear when your womb is in its child-bear­ing years. They are also called leiomy­omas and they al­most never de­velop into can­cer.

Where are my ovaries in re­la­tion to my womb?

Your ovaries and womb (uterus) are all part of your fe­male re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem. The fe­male re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem con­sists of ex­ter­nal struc­tures and in­ter­nal (un­seen) struc­tures. The ex­ter­nal struc­tures are your labia ma­jora, labia mi­nora (the lips), the Bartholin’s glands which pro­duce mu­cus and the cli­toris. The in­ter­nal struc­tures are: 1) Vagina – this is a canal which joins your cervix, which is the lower part of your womb. It con­nects your womb to the ex­ter­nal or­gans and al­lows sperm to en­ter the womb. It is also your birth canal.

2) Uterus (womb) – this is a hol­low, pear-shaped or­gan which houses your foe­tus once you get preg­nant. It is di­vided into the cervix, the lower part and the main body, which is called the cor­pus. The uterus can ex­pand to hold a baby.

3) Fal­lop­ian tubes – these are tubes which are at­tached to the uterus. They serve as pas­sages for your ova (eggs) to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Fer­til­i­sa­tion of an egg by a sperm usu­ally oc­curs in the Fal­lop­ian tubes.

4) Ovaries – these are small, oval-shaped glands which are lo­cated on ei­ther side of the uterus and are joined to it by the Fal­lop­ian tubes. Their func­tion is to pro­duce eggs and the fe­male re­pro­duc­tive hor­mones.

How can I tell if I have ovar­ian cysts? Are they dan­ger­ous?

Ovar­ian cysts are very com­mon. In fact, most women have them at some time dur­ing their lives. Most of the time, you can­not tell if you have an ovar­ian cyst be­cause they do not present with any symp­toms and they are harm­less. Most of them ac­tu­ally dis­ap­pear without treat­ment in a few months. But some­times, a large ovar­ian cyst can give rise to a lot of com­pli­ca­tions.

It can be­come very large and swell your ab­domen. I have seen ovar­ian cysts which are large enough to make the woman be­lieve that she was preg­nant. Ovar­ian cysts can give rise to: Ir­reg­u­lar men­stru­a­tion Pain in your pelvis which may be con­stant or oc­curs shortly be­fore your pe­riod be­gins and just be­fore it ends

Pain in your pelvis dur­ing sex­ual in­ter­course

Pain or pres­sure dur­ing bowel move­ments

Nau­sea, vom­it­ing and breast ten­der­ness as well as the type of symp­toms ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing preg­nancy

Full­ness or heav­i­ness in your ab­domen

Pres­sure upon your blad­der, caus­ing you to uri­nate more fre­quently

All these symp­toms re­quire med­i­cal at­ten­tion. An ovar­ian cyst may also rup­ture, which is a med­i­cal emer­gency.

Why do ovar­ian cysts form?

Your ovaries grow cyst-like struc­tures called fol­li­cles ev­ery month as part of your men­strual cy­cle. The fol­li­cles pro­duce es­tro­gen and pro­ges­terone and rup­ture to re­lease an egg each time you ovu­late. Then they nor­mally in­vo­lute.

When a fol­li­cle keeps on grow­ing and doesn’t rup­ture to re­lease an egg, it be­comes a fol­lic­u­lar cyst. When it does re­lease an egg, but the egg doesn’t get re­leased for some rea­son and the fol­li­cle seals off, trap­ping the egg in­side, it be­comes a cor­pus lu­teum cyst.

Both fol­lic­u­lar cysts and cor­pus lu­teum cysts are usu­ally harm­less. They dis­ap­pear on their own within three months.

There are other cysts which are not part of your men­strual cy­cle, how­ever. They may de­velop from the other struc­tures in your ovary. These can be­come very large, caus­ing your ovary to move out of the pelvis and in­crease the chance of its stem be­ing twisted. This is called ovar­ian tor­sion.

this sounds scary!

It is. Cysts that are very large can be sub­ject to this, and it is an ex­cru­ci­at­ingly painful com­pli­ca­tion that re­quires you to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion im­me­di­ately. An­other com­pli­ca­tion of an ovar­ian cyst is its rup­ture, which can cause se­vere pain and in­ter­nal bleed­ing.

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