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13 Y.O. Daughter With Ovarian Cysts

Published: January 16, 2003
Dear TeenHealthFX,
My 13 year old daughter had pains in her abdomen, so we took her to the hospital. After a CT scan, they told me it was an ovarian cyst. They sent us home with instructions to take Motrin, and that was that. Her period last month was just spotty. I have made an appt. with a female GYN, but they cannot see us for almost a month. My daughter is also very nervous about having a doctor examine her "there". What causes ovarian cysts? Are they dangerous?
Signed: 13 Y.O. Daughter With Ovarian Cysts

Dear 13 Y.O. Daughter With Ovarian Cysts,

 

Rest assured that ovarian cysts are actually very common in women of childbearing age. An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac, almost like a blister, that forms in an ovary. Most cysts are produced as a result of normal hormonal functioning. All women actually develop small ovarian cysts during the menstrual cycle, when an egg matures in a small sac on the surface of the ovary. Normally the egg is released from the sac (ovulation) and the sac dissolves. But if a normal sac keeps expanding, it becomes a cyst. Another type of cyst may form if when the egg is released, the channel through which it has burst seals off very quickly, and the area underneath expands into a cyst.

 

Many cysts produce no symptoms, but when cysts do lead to symptoms, these can include menstrual irregularities, abdominal or low back pain that can vary from mild, occasional pain to severe, persistent pain, pain during intercourse, a feeling of fullness or heaviness in the low abdomen or pelvis, and if the cyst is large enough, pressure on other organs like the bladder or bowel. Most ovarian cysts go away without treatment within 1 to 3 menstrual cycles. If they don't, your doctor may do more tests to be sure that it is a cyst and not another type of ovarian growth that may need treatment. And, ovarian cysts do not cause cancer.

 

It is understandable that your daughter is nervous about being examined "there," but you should reassure her that the doctor will do her/his best to make the examination as painless as possible and that this follow-up exam is very important. It is likely that the doctor will perform some of the elements of a routine pelvic exam , in which she can determine the nature of the ovarian cysts, and whether or not they are still present. She may do the bimanual pelvic exam, which is done by inserting 1 or 2 gloved, lubricated fingers into the vagina while pressing on the abdomen with the other hand.

 

Ovarian cysts are a common concern among young women.  You can reassure your daughter that a pelvic examination is just a minor inconvenience that can help her ensure good reproductive health.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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