By Tony Akinyemi
Baby girls are usually born with two ovaries that already carry all the eggs that a woman would ever have in the course of her lifetime. These two ovaries release their eggs in turn, one at a time, on a monthly basis. An ovary is located on each side of the uterus (womb). An egg grows inside the ovary until it is mature and ready to be released into the Fallopian Tube for possible fertilization and eventual implantation in the womb, resulting in pregnancy. The egg is enclosed in a sac called a follicle. However, if a follicle fails to rupture and release the egg, the fluid remains and can form a cyst in the ovary.
Ovarian cysts are, therefore, small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman’s ovaries. Most cysts are harmless, but some may bleed, rupture, or cause significant pain and discomfort. Ovarian cysts resemble bubbles. This can be clearly seen on an ultrasound image. The cyst contains only fluid and is surrounded by a very thin wall. This kind of cyst is also called a functional cyst. The vast majority of ovarian cysts are considered functional or physiologic. This means they occur normally and are not part of a disease process. Small cysts (those that are smaller than half of an inch) may be present in a normal ovary while follicles are being formed.
Ovarian cysts affect women of all ages. They occur most often during a woman’s childbearing years.
Most ovarian cysts are benign (i.e. non-cancerous), and many disappear on their own in a matter of weeks without treatment.
TYPES OF OVARIAN CYSTS
Ovarian Cysts are of various types. The most common types are:
Follicular cyst: This type of simple cyst can form when ovulation does not occur or when a mature follicle collapses on itself. A follicular cyst usually forms at the time of ovulation and can grow to about 2.3 inches in diameter. The rupture of this type of cyst can create sharp severe pain on the side of the ovary on which the cyst appears. This sharp pain (sometimes called mittelschmerz) occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, during ovulation. About 25% of women with this type of cyst experience pain. Usually, these cysts produce no symptoms and disappear by themselves within a few months.
Corpus luteum cyst: This type of physiologic ovarian cyst occurs after an egg has been released from a follicle. After this happens, the follicle becomes what is known as a corpus luteum. If a pregnancy doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum usually breaks down and disappears. It may, however, fill with fluid or blood and persist on the ovary. Usually, this cyst is found on only one side and produces no symptoms.
Hemorrhagic cyst: This type of functional cyst occurs when bleeding occurs within a cyst. Symptoms such as abdominal pain on one side of the body may be present with this type of cyst.
Dermoid cyst: a type of benign tumor sometimes referred to as mature cystic teratoma. It is an abnormal cyst that usually affects younger women and may grow to 6 inches in diameter. These cysts can become inflamed. They can also twist around (a condition known as ovarian torsion), compromising their blood supply and causing severe abdominal pain.
Endometriomas or endometrioid cysts: This type of cyst is formed when endometrial tissue (the lining tissue of the uterus) is present on the ovaries. It affects women during the reproductive years and may cause chronic pelvic pain associated with menstruation.
Polycystic-appearing ovary: Diagnosed based on its enlarged size – usually twice that of normal – with small cysts present around the outside of the ovary. This condition can be found in healthy women and in women with hormonal disorders.
Cystadenoma: A cystadenoma is a type of benign tumor that develops from ovarian tissue. They may be filled with a mucous-type fluid material. Cystadenomas can become very large and may measure 12 inches or more in diameter.
SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CYSTS
Smaller ovarian cysts do not usually produce symptoms. However, large cysts may produce one or more of the following symptoms:
Irregular menstrual periods
Long-term pelvic pain during menstrual period that may also be felt in the lower back
Vaginal pain or spotty bleeding from the vagina
Pelvic pain after sexual intercourse
Pelvic pain after strenuous exercise
Lower abdominal or pelvic pain, which may start and stop and may be severe, sudden, and sharp
Feeling of lower abdominal pressure or fullness
Pain or pressure with urination or bowel movements
Nausea or vomiting
CAUSES OF OVARIAN CYSTS
Many conventional medical experts believe that any or a combination of the following risk factors can predispose a woman to developing ovarian cysts:
Early menarche (i.e. first menstruation at 11 years of age or younger)
Irregular menstrual cycles
Infertility treatment with gonadotropin medications (fertility drugs)
Increased upper body fat distribution
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
Tamoxifen therapy (often prescribed for breast cancer patients)
Cigarette smoking also increases the risk of ovarian cysts.
However, among holistic and alternative health practitioners, it is also believed that, in addition to the above, inappropriate diet that is high in animal products from animals that have been raised on hormones can contribute significantly to the development of ovarian cysts. For example, consuming cow milk from cows that have been injected with hormones to enhance their lactation (milk production) may increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cysts. It has been established time and again that dietary and lifestyle changes can significantly improve a woman’s health, including the prevention and reversal of ovarian cysts.
RESOLVING OVARIAN CYSTS
Essentially, conventional medical professionals employ three approaches in addressing ovarian cysts: oral contraceptives, pain relievers, and surgery.
Medical doctors often prescribe oral contraceptives (i.e. birth control pills) to help regulate the menstrual cycle of a woman and also prevent the formation of follicles that can turn into cysts, and possibly reduce the size of an existing cyst. (I personally will NEVER advise a woman to go on contraceptive pills because of the possible side effects, which includes cancer).
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed as well to help reduce pelvic pain.
Meanwhile, I have found out time and again that a simple change in diet and lifestyle can help a woman to resolve the challenge of ovarian cysts and prevent invasive surgery. I have seen this happen again and again in many women that I have worked with to help fashion out a dietary and lifestyle programme to improve their health. A dietary programme that observes the following rules will definitely be of immense help:
Avoid the following in your diet: Pasteurized Cow milk, MSG (Mono-Sodium-Glutamate – present in most food seasonings, taste enhancers, noodle seasonings, etc.), Margarine, Fried Foods, Fast Foods, Refined and Highly Processed Foods, White Flour Products, Artificial Colours, Artificial Flavours, Artificial Sweeteners, etc.
Adjust your ratio of cooked food to raw food to a ratio of 3:7 or thereabout. In other words, on any given day, consume only about 30% of your food intake as cooked food, and eat the remaining 70% as raw foods. Your raw foods will include fresh fruits, pure vegetable salads (must not include sliced eggs, pasta, corned beef, etc.), raw nuts (e.g. raw almonds, etc.), freshly-made smoothies, etc.
Eat an avocado pear a day to help balance your hormones.
Make milk from Tiger Nuts (Yoruba: OFIO; Hausa: AYA; the Ibos call it HAUSA GROUNDNUT or AKI HAUSA). Soak fresh tiger nuts in water at room temperature for 2 hours or soak dried tiger nuts overnight for 12 hours before blending with a little water in a strong blender. Put the blended nut in a piece of clean white cloth and squeeze out the milk. Put the milk in your blender and add avocado pear and banana (or mango). Add one TURMERIC and one GINGER. Blend all together in a blender or smoothie maker to make a creamy smoothie. Drink a glass or two daily. It balances sex hormones thereby enhancing fertility.
Achieve your ideal body weight and Body Mass Index. Being underweight or overweight is not a good idea.
Exercise moderately regularly for about 20 to 30 minutes 4 to 5 days a week.
Avoid Smoking (even passive smoking).
Drink enough clean water on a daily basis. Never get dehydrated.
You may also want to obtain and use the following supplements:
o An IODINE source (e.g. EnerG-Iodine, Iodoral, Iosol, Nascent Iodine, Triple Iodine Complex, or SEA VEGETABLES such as Modifilan (or Brown Seaweed), Kelp, Spirulina, Chlorella, Red Marine Algae, or Blue-Green Algae) – improves thyroid health and also balances oestrogen. Please do not ingest the iodine in your First Aid Box. That one is toxic if ingested.
o WILD YAM CREAM (or Balanced Woman Cream) – balances hormones.
o VITAMIN D3 1000iu – boost immunity and helps mineral absorption.
o TURMERIC or CURCUMIN (Curry) – an anti-inflammatory agent and a liver cleanser.
o A good source of OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids – e.g. Udo’s Oil, Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oil – also anti-inflammatory.
o MILK THISTLE or DANDELION (for liver cleanse).
o CHASTEBERRY or VITEX.
The above supplements work synergistically to help balance a woman’s body chemistry and may help to resolve several female health issues – ovarian cysts, breast lumps, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease, hormonal imbalance, etc.
I will highly recommend my 30-DAY CHALLENGE dietary programme to those who already have developed or are prone to developing ovarian cysts. (If you will send me an e-mail request firstname.lastname@example.org I will email electronic copies of our HEALHY LIVING NEWSLETTERS Numbers 8, 14, 15, and 19 FREE of charge for your personal health education in Women’s Health. Please remember to indicate the Numbers of the Newsletters when you send me an e-mail request).
Shalom & Mega Blessings.