Ovarian Masses: What you should know?

What is an ovary?

You might be familiar with the term ovaries. It is one of the most important organs in the female reproductive system. It is an almond-shaped ductless gland that produces female reproductive cells. There are two ovaries located at the pelvic region, at both sides of the uterus in a female body. The ovaries release hormones that are responsible for managing the menstrual cycle. It also releases a matured egg every month to get fertilised with the sperm.

What is an Ovarian Mass?

Ovarian mass is also called as pelvic mass or adnexal mass. It can be defined as growth of tissues in the uterus, fallopian tube or the ovaries itself. It is formed as small sacs filled with fluid. The ovarian masses are mostly of non-cancerous nature, and will go away with menstrual periods for most people. However, it can increase the risk of ovarian cancer if it gets settled there for a long time.

Symptoms of Ovarian Mass 

In some patients, there will be no symptoms of ovarian mass; while others many experience certain discomforts. The symptoms of ovarian mass include:

  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdominal/pelvic area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Irregular/heavy/painful periods
  • Pain during urination/bowel movements
  • Tenderness in breast
  • Tendency to urinate frequently
  • Nausea or vomiting

Moreover, the mass in the ovaries may sometimes lead to ovarian torsion or rupture, which is a serious condition. The ovarian mass may sometimes lead to sudden torsion which may not show any symptoms otherwise. You may have to get immediate treatment if there is:

  • Intense/severe/sharp pain in the lower abdomen suddenly
  • Fever, with abdominal pain and vomiting
  • Fatigue, dizziness, increase in heart beat, fainting etc.

Types of Ovarian Mass

Ovarian mass can be of different types namely polycystic ovary, endometriomas, cystadenomas, and dermoid cysts.

  • Polycystic ovary: Small cyst like formation inside the ovaries
  • Endometriomas: Abnormal tissue growth outside the uterus which may get attached to the ovaries
  • Cystadenomas: It forms outside the ovaries and are benign
  • Dermoid: It forms like a sac inside the ovaries and will be filled with fat tissues

Ovarian mass can be a result of a surgery, treatment for gynaecological issues or due to some other disorder in the reproductive organs. In other cases, it can be formed when the follicle, in which egg matures, does not break down inside the ovaries.

Ovarian mass treatment

The diagnosis of ovarian mass is done through a pelvic examination, and imaging tools like ultrasound scan, CT scan, or an MRI. Ovarian mass treatment includes removal or shrinking of the mass using different methods.

Oral contraceptive pills are advised to limit the production of reproductive hormones and thereby aim for the shrinkage of the ovarian mass. A laparoscopic surgery or laparatomy is advised to remove the masses that are in larger size.  Oophorectomy, removal of one or both ovaries, is suggested at severe stages of ovarian masses.