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Doctors' Notes

Women’s Health: Ovarian Cysts

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Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents (and husband and wife) physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via talkback@jetmag.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 

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Question:  I have been bothered with ovarian cysts and they always seem to have me in so much pain. I would love to have some advice. What should I do?  What are my options?

Ovarian cysts are a common health issue that many women are facing.  In fact, many women have had ovarian cysts at some time in their life and had no idea they were forming.  Most often they resolve on their own with little to no symptoms, and no treatment needed.  However, occasionally ovarian cysts can be problematic and lead to bouts of discomfort, abdominal fullness, or severe pain.

Ovarian cysts vary in their makeup, but are generally fluid-filled sacs that form on or in the ovary.  The reason for the formation of the cyst also varies, but can range from hormonal changes during the course of a woman’s normal menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalance, or infection.   Lots of women with cysts tend to worry that they are at risk of ovarian cancer.  The good news is that the majority of ovarian cysts are not cancerous and do not lead to cancer.  In fact, less than 1 percent of ovarian cysts are thought to be related to ovarian cancer.

The vast majority of ovarian cysts don’t require any treatment at all and can simply be monitored for growth or spontaneous resolution.  However, depending on your medical history, it may also be advised to start birth control pills as treatment.  The hormones found in the pills are sometimes effective at preventing the formation of ovarian cysts.  Lastly, surgical removal is also an option.  This form of treatment is usually reserved for those suffering from extreme symptoms, including pelvic pain/pressure, excessive growth of the cyst, or if there is any suspicion that the growth may be cancerous.

The most important thing to do when facing ovarian cysts is to have an open dialogue with a physician that you trust.  Being an active participant in your healthcare is the best way to have all of your needs addressed in a manner that you are comfortable with and can understand.

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors: Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at www.urbanhousecall.com, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!