Ovarian cyst: What is it? What are its causes and Contributing factors?

Cysts, small abnormal sizes containing liquid, sometimes develop at the level of an ovary. They are either functional and transient, influenced by hormonal secretions of the menstrual cycle, or organic. Ovarian cysts are mostly benign.

What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is fluid-containing swelling. It develops on one of the two ovaries, located at the end of the fallopian tubes, themselves connected to the uterus.

Ovarian cyst is most often benign, but its presence at this location is abnormal.

It is:

  • Functional and spontaneously regresses in 90% of cases,
  • or organic and does not regress.

5 to 7% of women develop an ovarian cyst in their lives.

However, girls aged 10 to 16 may also exhibit functional or more rarely organic cysts.

Functional cysts of the ovary
Functional ovarian cysts are the most common (90% of cases). We can distinguish two types:

Follicular ovarian cyst
It comes from the unusual evolution of a follicle (small ovarian pouch containing liquid, in which an ovum develops).

Luteum Ovarian cyst
It corresponds to an increase in the volume of the yellow body (hormone-secreting gland, which temporarily forms in the ovary after each ovulation).

Functional cysts occur predominantly before menopause and in some cases:

  • Following a treatment stimulating ovulation, in case of sterility (medical assistance to the procreation). Several cysts can then coexist;
  • In the first few months after the installation of a levonorgestrel-containing IUD (12 to 30% of women);
  • After tamoxifen treatment (sometimes prescribed after breast cancer).

Their volume may vary depending on the menstrual cycle. They end up regressing on their own in a few weeks.

The yellow body is derived from the transformation of the follicle after ovulation
Every month, an oocyte contained in an ovarian follicle matures. Under the action of a specific hormone (follicle-stimulating hormone or “FSH”), the follicle grows and reaches the surface of the ovary. Another hormone (luteinizing hormone or “LH”) triggers ovulation: The wall of the follicle ruptures and the oocyte is expelled into the fallopian tube, possibly fertilized.
The follicle is then transformed into a yellow body, which secretes progesterone during the second phase of the menstrual cycle.

Organic cysts of the ovary
Organic cysts develop from an ovarian tissue. They do not change volume during the menstrual cycle and do not disappear spontaneously. Their origin is unknown to date.

There are four types:

  1. serous ovarian cysts
    These are the most common. They contain only fluid liquid and their wall is fine.
  2. Ovarian cysts mucoid or mucinous
    Composed of several cavities separated by partitions, they contain a denser or even pasty liquid. Their wall is also thicker than that of serous cysts.
  3. Dermoid ovarian cysts
    Their cell structure is similar to that of the skin. They may also contain fat and calcified parts (calcium deposit).
  4. Endométriosiques Ovarian cysts
    Linked to a disease called endometriosis, they present a thick wall covered with blood vessels. They are both filled with fluid and blood.

More often than not, organic cysts are benign. However, they are removed to avoid complications (ovarian torsion, intra-cystic hemorrhage, etc.)

They are then analyzed in particular to verify that they do not have any cancerous cells.

A different disease: Polycystic ovarian syndrome
It is a hormonal disorder affecting more than 5% of women of childbearing age and causing different symptoms:

Multiple ovarian cysts (more than 12 follicles 2 to 9 mm in diameter, on at least one ovary), visible on ultrasound;
Ovulation and rare or absent menstruation (amenorrhea), or even infertility (in 20 to 74% of cases);
Excessive hair growth linked to a high rate of certain androgens (male hormones).

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