Unfortunately, ovarian cysts after menopause are a possibility. Here, we look at what this means and how to diagnose and treat it.
Once you go through menopause, everything down there is kinda done, right?
Surely no more periods means no more anything else?
Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case, and it’s possible that you might be diagnosed with ovarian cysts after menopause.
On the whole, ovarian cysts are more likely to make an appearance before you go through menopause than after.
But that doesn’t mean that postmenopausal ovarian cysts are out of the question.
And since the risk of ovarian cancer increases as you get older, it’s worth getting yourself checked out if you think you might be at risk.
Let’s take a look at what ovarian cysts at this point in your life mean, what symptoms you should like out for, and how they can be treated.
In this article: 📝
- What are ovarian cysts?
- Can you get ovarian cysts after menopause?
- Types ovarian cysts after menopause
- What are the symptoms of ovarian cyst after menopause?
- How to diagnose ovarian cyst after menopause
- When should I be concerned about an ovarian cyst?
- The bottom line on ovarian cysts after menopause
What are ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid that are found on an ovary.
They’re very common and often don’t cause any symptoms at all.
You might have them without even knowing it.
Most ovarian cysts don’t cause any harm.
They’re likely not only to be asymptomatic but also benign (this means that they’re not cancerous).
Often they clear up on their own and don’t need to be removed surgically.
There are exceptions, though.
We’ll take you through the details.
Can you get ovarian cysts after menopause?
Yep, you can.
Ovarian cysts can form at any stage of your life, including after you’ve gone through menopause.
Basically, if you still have your ovaries, ovarian cysts are a possibility.
Some studies suggest that they occur in between 5 and 17% of menopausal women, though there isn’t quite enough data in this field for anyone to know for sure.
The number of postmenopausal women diagnosed with ovarian cysts is likely increasing as more women go for imaging, like ultrasounds, as part of their medical care.
Something to be aware of is that, while ovarian cysts are more likely before menopause, if you get them after menopause they’re more likely to be cancerous.
So if you suspect you might have ovarian cysts, make an appointment with your doctor.
Types ovarian cysts after menopause
There are two main types of ovarian cysts that may make an appearance before menopause. And two that may make an appearance afterward.
Before menopause, you could have either follicular cysts or corpus luteum cysts.
Both of these are associated with your menstrual cycle and, as a result, don’t develop once you’ve hit menopause.
The follicular phase of your cycle refers to the period when an egg is maturing in your ovaries.
And follicles are the small sacs in your ovaries that release eggs every month.
If a follicle doesn’t release its mature egg, it has the potential to turn into a cyst.
The corpus luteum is a normal cyst that forms on your ovary every month
After menopause, even though your ovaries are no longer producing eggs, estrogen, or progesterone, they can still develop cysts (what’s that saying about old habits?).
During this phase of your life, you could develop:
- Dermoid cysts, which is a growth of tissue under the skin that you can get in various places on your body, including your ovaries.
Cystadenomas, which grow on the ovary and typically have an excellent prognosis.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cyst after menopause?
Wondering if you have ovarian cysts?
Here are some common symptoms to be aware of:
- Pain in your pelvis, either a dull heavy ache or a sharp, sudden pain
- Pain in your abdomen
- Pain during sex
- Bloating or swelling
- Bladder or bowel problems
- Needing to urinate regularly
If you’re experiencing ovary pain, we have this handy guide to help you.
How to diagnose ovarian cyst after menopause
Before your doctor diagnoses whether you do in fact have ovarian cysts, they’ll probably first give you a thorough test to make sure that nothing else is at play.
Conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, and diverticulitis can all have similar symptoms.
Diagnosing ovarian cysts usually depends on one of the following tests:
A transabdominal or transvaginal ultrasound, which (as the names suggest) means either running an ultrasound wand over your abdomen, or inserting an ultrasound probe into your vagina to look at the ovaries up close, will look at the size, shape and complexity of the cysts.
CA-125 blood test
Your doctor may also decide to run a [CA-125 blood test](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10838291/.
This can help to determine whether the cysts are cancerous by measuring the amount of a protein called CA 125.
While higher levels might be a sign of other conditions if you haven’t yet gone through menopause (including pregnancy, menstruation, and endometriosis), they can be an accurate way of picking up ovarian cancer if you’re postmenopausal.
If your ultrasound doesn’t give conclusive findings, an MRI is a good way to look at benign ovarian masses.
When should I be concerned about an ovarian cyst?
If you are worried, the best thing to do is check in with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
Here’s some of what you can expect as you navigate next steps.
If they’re benign:
If your doctor is happy with your ultrasound and CA-125 results, they might suggest doing nothing for the meantime, though they’ll probably keep an eye on you by doing regular exams and imaging tests.
Even benign cysts might need to be removed though, as they can sometimes grow too big, or become painful or uncomfortable.
If you’re at high risk of ovarian cancer, your doctor might also suggest removing them.
Fortunately, laparoscopic surgery makes this pretty easy.
A small incision is all that’s usually necessary to remove a small cyst.
If they’re cancerous:
If your doctor is concerned that your cyst might be cancerous, they’ll probably want to remove it surgically and run a biopsy.
If this test comes back positive, they’ll likely refer you to an oncologist.
Treating ovarian cancer usually involves removing just the ovaries, or removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus, which is called a hysterectomy.
You might also receive chemotherapy and radiation.
The bottom line on ovarian cysts after menopause
Ovarian cysts are common in women of all ages, but if you’re postmenopausal, they have a higher chance of being cancerous.
If you have any of the symptoms above and suspect you might have ovarian cysts, rather chat with your doctor sooner rather than later.
They’ll be able to diagnose you and advise you on the best course of treatment.
And if you’re looking for support, don’t forget that the Peanut menopause community is always here.