Posts tagged ‘gynecologic exam’

Understanding Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are very common and can affect women of all ages.  Most women will have an ovarian cyst at some time in their reproductive lives.  Although they are less common after a woman stops menstruating, they are present in up to 14.8% of postmenopausal women.

But what is an ovarian cyst?  An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid, surrounded by a very thin wall, within an ovary (one of a pair of organs in the pelvis responsible for producing female hormones and eggs).  Eggs normally mature within the ovaries in small, fluid filled spaces called follicles.  Any ovarian follicle larger than two centimeters can be called an ovarian cyst.  They vary greatly in size (as big as a cantaloupe or larger!) and in etiology.  Most ovarian cysts are benign (non-cancerous) in nature.  Several common types are

  1. functional (or simple) ovarian cysts, which are related to the menstrual cycle and often resolve on their own
  2. endometrioid cysts, which are due to endometriosis, are often called “chocolate” cysts or endometriomas
  3. dermoid cysts (or teratomas) which can have solid components like hair or teeth

 

Many ovarian cysts are asymptomatic and are discovered only incidentally at the time of an exam or ultrasound.  However, some ovarian cysts cause problems.  Rupture of an ovarian cyst can cause bleeding or pain.  An enlarged ovarian cyst can cause an ovary to twist on the stalk containing its blood supply, a condition called torsion.  Ovarian cysts may also interfere with fertility treatments and goals. 

Surgery may be required to remove large cysts or to make sure a cancer is not present.

If you think you have symptoms consistent with an ovarian cyst, it is important to be evaluated by a physician.  Ultrasound or other imaging as well as simple blood tests may be done to help determine whether treatment is necessary. 

 

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May 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm 38 comments

When to schedule your first exam with a gynecologist.

Your first gynecololgic visit can be a daunting prospect at any age.  But with a better idea of what to expect, there’s no reason for your visit to be intimidating, uncomfortable, or painful.

It is appropriate to make an appointment to see a gynecologist for the first time, whatever your age, for any of the following reasons:

  1. If you are considering becoming sexually active and need to discuss contraceptives and STD prevention
  2. If you are already sexually active
  3. If you have not been sexually active, but are experiencing symptoms which may be related to your menstrual cycle (such as pain, irregular cycles or excessive bleeding
  4. If you think you may be pregnant
  5. If you think for any other reason you might need gynecologic care.  (Even if you might be wrong.)

Some organizations recommend seeing a gynecologist by age 21 even if none of the above applies to you. 

It is not unusual to bring a parent, a good friend, or your partner to your first visit.  It can help to have someone there to share your concerns, be an additional listening ear, or to calm your nerves.  They don’t have to go into the examining room with you.  Most of the time, they don’t want to anyway. 

There should always be a time during your visit when your doctor gives you the opportunity to discuss things with him or her alone, so that you can discuss private issues in PRIVATE, without alienating the person who accompanied you.  This is especially important to remember if you are under 18 and you are considering bringing a parent.

 

 

A note on timing: The best time to schedule your visit is about a week after your period.  However, it may not be necessary to cancel your visit if you are still bleeding the day of your exam.  If you are unsure, call ahead and ask if your provider recommends that you still keep your appointment.  Most providers don’t charge a cancellation fee if you need to reschedule.

May 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment


Linda M. Nicoll, MD

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find information about minimally invasive gynecologic surgery as well as some more general information about common gynecologic disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infertility, and pelvic pain.

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