Fibroids and ovarian cysts are similar. They’re both growths on the uterine wall, and they can both develop in either the interior or exterior of the uterine wall. The types of growth that they are and the health risks they pose, however, are different.
Fibroids are benign, or non-cancerous, tumors. As benign tumors, they don’t pose many health risks unless they physically block a passageway or put pressure on a nearby organ. Fibroids can become large and displace other organs or cause fertility problems, but these are relatively rare. In many cases, doctors recommend just monitoring fibroids unless they’re posing a specific health risk. Sometimes, they’ll even go away on their own.
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow on the uterine wall, and they pose two specific health risks besides blocking a passageway or displacing a nearby organ. First, if cysts break, their fluid will leak. Depending on the size and location of the cyst, this can lead to blood poisoning. Second, cysts aren’t themselves cancerous, but they can develop into cancer. For these reasons, doctors treat cysts differently, and often more aggressively, than fibroids.
While fibroids are tumors that grow on the uterine wall, endometriosis is abnormal growth of the cells that line the uterine wall. In endometriosis, the cells that grow on the inside of the uterus grow outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other nearby organs. This can interfere with menstrual cycles, make periods painful, and, sometimes, cause infertility. Endometriosis is often managed with medication, although a doctor may recommend other treatment as well.
Gynecologists and OB/GYNs focus their medical practice in treating women’s reproductive system. They’re able to diagnose endometriosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts, and to treat the three conditions.
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