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Are Ovarian Cysts Common in Postmenopause?

Many women appreciate finishing up menopause and entering postmenopause, because their menopausal symptoms usually subside, and they no longer have to worry about pregnancy or birth control. However, postmenopause comes with its own set of risks. Ovarian cysts are actually less common in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women. But, postmenopausal women with ovarian cysts are at higher risk for ovarian cancer and other complications.

Unfortunately, it is still possible to develop ovarian cysts after menopause

What Are Ovarian Cysts?

An ovarian cyst is a sac of fluid that grows in, or on the outside of, the ovary or ovaries. They occur when a follicle fails to break open and release an egg during ovulation, and thus retain their fluid. Cysts can also happen after an egg has been released from a follicle. To be classified as an ovarian cyst, the growth must be larger than two centimeters, but cysts can grow to a wide range of sizes.

Most of the time, even in postmenopausal women, ovarian cysts are benign. They usually don't require treatment and they often disappear by themselves. However, sometimes these cysts can become malignant or cause pain, and in these cases, treatment is required. Treatment may involve surgery to remove the cyst, which can entail the removal of one or both ovaries in extreme cases.

Postmenopause and Ovarian Cysts

Before menopause, ovarian cysts are very common; in fact, most women will have them at some point in their lives. However, 14-17% of postmenopausal women also develop cysts, so although the risks are smaller, cysts are still possible.There is also a small chance - about 5% - that a cyst could be cancerous, even during postmenopause. In this regard, it's good to recognize the symptoms of ovarian cysts in order to know when to see a doctor.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts during Postmenopause

Though ovarian cysts don't always cause symptoms and can go away on their own, there are some symptoms that may indicate the presence of an ovarian cyst. The most common include:

  • Sudden pain in the lower abdomen

  • Bloating or swelling of the abdomen

  • Ache of the pelvis, lower back or thighs

  • Pain with nausea and vomiting

  • Fever, weakness, and dizziness

  • Rapid breathing

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be that you have an ovarian cyst, and you should go to the doctor immediately.

More Information

Ovarian cysts are usually benign, but it is worth visiting a doctor to get symptoms checked out, even in postmenopause. Ovarian cysts can cause pain during sex and other uncomfortable side effects so it important to seek treatment. Usually a doctor will perform an ultrasound to see the cyst's size, shape, and location. Blood tests and hormone level tests may also be done to investigate the cause and type of the cyst. Click on the following link to learn about postmenopause.

3 Lifestyle Tips for Postmenopausal Women

Making healthy lifestyle changes during postmenopause will greatly reduce a woman's risk of heart disease and cancer. Learn more here.

Does Postmenopausal Obesity Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?

According to research, obese postmenopausal women are a more likely to develop breast cancer.

Pregnancy and Postmenopause

Postmenopause marks the end of reproductive life. However, after menopause, you can enjoy your sex life without worries.

Sources:
  • National Institute of Health. (2015). Thyroid Diseases. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/thyroiddiseases.html
  • National Health Service. (2015). Irregular Periods. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  • Storck, Susan. (2014). Ovarian cysts. Retrieved on May 19, 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001504.htm