Ovarian cysts are a cause of concern for many women, especially the possibility that the cyst might burst. Burst ovarian cysts are a condition that needs immediate attention.
Cysts on the ovaries can be common among women of childbearing age, but rarely are they life-threatening. During normal monthly menstruation, a follicle in the ovary releases an egg, or ovum, in the menstrual cycle. Sometimes, however, the follicle fails to break open, causing the formation of a cyst. This type of cyst is called a “functional cyst.”
Ordinarily during the menstrual cycle, the sac from which the egg was expelled will dissolve. On occasion, though, the sac seals off, then it fills with bodily fluid or blood. Termed a “corpus luteum cyst, ” this type like the functional cyst dissolves within a few weeks after it forms.
A third type of ovarian cyst can be more serious. This kind of cyst results from a condition known as endometriosis. This illness results when uterine tissue, which is normally discharged during the menstrual period, migrates to the ovaries. Since this tissue is intended to nurture a fertilized egg, it is rich with blood and nutrients. When an endometriosis cyst bursts, it discharges blood that irritates the abdomen.
A burst ovarian cyst causes a woman pain that typically radiates throughout the pelvic region into the lower abdomen. How severe the pain gets depends on whether the cyst is infected or bleeding, and of what the cyst is composed, such as fluid or blood. The contents can irritate the peritoneal lining, which increase the pain. An ovarian cyst also can give a woman discomfort by influencing the ovary to produce more prostaglandins.
The peritoneum is especially vulnerable to irritation because it contains so many nerve endings. An amount of blood as small as 10 ml can cause severe irritation and pain.
Any time a woman finds herself in this type of pelvic pain, particularly when bleeding or spotting is also present, she should seek emergency treatment. In all likelihood the cause is a burst ovarian cyst and should be seen to immediately by a physician.