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A leaking ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled pocket located in or on the ovary that has started to rupture, releasing fluid into the abdominal cavity. This can result in serious complications for the patient, and it requires prompt medical treatment. A doctor can evaluate the patient, determine the size of the cyst and the nature of the leak, and decide whether to move forward with surgery or take a more conservative approach and see if the cyst resolves on its own.
Cysts form when the follicles that develop during the menstrual cycle don't pop open to release the eggs inside. Instead, they remain in place, creating a small fluid-filled bubble. Over time, an ovarian cyst can grow quite large in some cases. Many are benign and will not cause any symptoms for the patient. Others may twist, cutting off the blood supply to part of the ovary, blocking the fallopian tube, and causing other issues. In some cases, a leaking ovarian cyst develops, releasing fluid into the abdomen.
A patient with a leaking cyst may notice pain, swelling, and tenderness. A feeling of fullness in the abdomen can be experienced and it is sometimes difficult to urinate. If symptoms like sharp pains, fever, and severe nausea and vomiting develop, they can be a sign of dangerous complications like infection. These may impair fertility for the patient and could also lead to other complications.
Palpation and medical imaging can usually reveal a leaking ovarian cyst. If the cyst is small and the leak appears contained, the doctor may recommend rest, drinking fluids, and allowing it to resolve itself. Patients may experience symptoms for a few days, but the leak will usually stop and the ovary will start to heal. In other cases, surgery to remove the cyst, and possibly the entire ovary, may be required. Doctors usually only recommend this if they think a patient is at risk of complications.
Sometimes patients experience recurrent cysts as a result of medication or chronic disease. In these patients, treatments like changes of medication or surgery may be advised to address the issue. This may end in a compromise to the patient's fertility and patients may want to discuss egg donation before treatment to have an opportunity to freeze and store eggs for future use. Storage technology for whole embryos is generally more reliable than storage of eggs alone, and patients who donate eggs before a leaking ovarian cyst surgery may want to consider having some fertilized and stored, allowing them more options in the future if they decide they want to have children.