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Hemorrhagic cysts occur when the small blood vessels in the wall of an existing cyst rupture and fill the cyst with blood. The majority of these types of cysts, also called blood cysts, form in female ovaries, usually during the menstruation cycle. Ovarian cysts usually form when fluid builds up around an egg, when an egg is improperly formed, or when the egg is not released.
A typical cyst is a membranous sac filled with liquid or tissue. Many cysts are harmless, and are sometimes noticeable as firm or spongy lumps under the skin. Most hemorrhagic cysts form and recede naturally during the course of a few menstrual cycles without any physical signs, though patients with ovarian cysts often experience pain near the location of the cyst. When the cyst fills with blood, it causes the ovary wall to stretch rapidly, resulting in minor pains on either the right or left of the abdomen.
If a cyst is discovered, monitoring it can help prevent possible infection, blood loss, cancer, or tumors — especially if there is a family history of such conditions. Ice packs, hot water bottles, and painkillers can temporarily relieve the pain of hemorrhagic cysts until they heal. For more severe pain and swelling, doctors can often prescribe additional medications. The swelling often recedes naturally during the course of the menstrual cycle. Should a cyst rupture, it often heals virtually unnoticed.
When cysts rupture, the blood filling them is released into the abdomen. This causes a burning sensation in the abdominal area. Additional bodily fluids released from ruptured cysts can cause mild to serious infections. If, after the menstrual cycle, abdominal pain remains or increases to the point where it becomes difficult to perform daily tasks, it may be necessary to consult a doctor.
Normal hemorrhagic cysts do not require surgery, but doctors might need to perform surgery to remove or repair ruptured hemorrhagic cysts. The most common surgical procedure is called keyhole surgery. This procedure involves a few small incisions in the abdomen and stomach, which permit the doctor to use a small camera and surgical instruments to find and remove the cyst. Keyhole surgery reduces the blood loss and minimizes pain from incisions.
Exceedingly large cysts, while rare, usually require more invasive methods. Surgery is also required if the blood flow from the ruptured cyst persists, rather than clotting and permitting the ruptured tissue to heal. Recovery time for more complex surgeries is usually longer than it is for less invasive surgery.