Can Ovarian Cysts Cause Mood Swings?

In this blog post, we will address the question, “can ovarian cysts cause mood swings?” We will understand the research on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and mental health, PCOS symptoms, the causes of ovarian cysts, associated complications, and treatment options.

Ovarian cysts are found in the ovaries and are sacs filled with fluid. Some may contain tissue. A capsule encloses ovarian cysts, and they are typically the size of a cherry. Most cysts go away on their own with time. 

Most ovarian cysts are benign (non-cancerous), do not cause issues, and therefore need not be treated. Surgery is rarely ever prescribed in such cases. 10% of women are likely to develop ovarian cysts.

Can Ovarian Cysts Cause Mood Swings?

Yes, ovarian cysts can cause mood swings. There is a hormonal imbalance in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which increases the risk of excessive mood swings, depression, and anxiety disorders. 

Women with ovarian cysts have increased androgen (male hormone) than other women, which leads to irregular menstruation, acne, hirsutism (facial and body hair), and possibly even infertility. 

PCOS is more likely to occur in obese women, but the conditions appear to fuel each other. In other words, some women develop PCOS after gaining weight, while in some, PCOS can produce excessive insulin, which catalyzes weight gain.

Such interactions among the ovaries, endocrine system, and obesity pose a challenge to identify what impacts their mental health. 

Research on the Association Between PCOS and Mental Health

To understand more about this association, a group of researchers from Cardiff University investigated the psychological records of women with PCOS.

They compared this group of women with PCOS with women without ovarian cysts by pairing each subject based on age and BMI (body mass index). The findings reported that women with ovarian cysts were significantly more susceptible to developing a mental disorder, such as mood disorders, anxiety, or eating disorders.

There have been other studies in Taiwan and Australia with which the results of this study corroborated. The difference was only regarding the way psychology related to ovarian cysts in each specific disorder. They are still unsure of the exact cause of the increased risk of psychological disorders. 

The researchers are confident that hormonal imbalance is a determining factor. They speculate other factors associated with body weight gain, hirsutism, irregularity of periods, and infertility. 

Let us see the association between ovarian cysts and various psychological issues.

Depression

Obesity in itself can increase the risk of depression by 25%, and this figure increases in women with ovarian cysts compared to those without the cysts. Therefore, other PCOS symptoms may contribute to mental illnesses.

Hirsutism can make women feel insecure about their looks, thinking they are less attractive, making them more susceptible to depression. 

PCOS affects insulin and the regularity of periods. In turn, these effects increase the risk of excessive eating and obsessive control over food portions, which can lead to the development of eating disorders. 

Insulin resistance (common in women with PCOS) and depression have been known to be associated. In this case, too, these two conditions seem to fuel each other, making it challenging to discern the issue’s cause.

Anxiety

PCOS in itself is known to increase the risk of anxiety—this condition, coupled with eating disorders, further increases these risks.

Other Mental Health Disorders

Cardiff researchers explored other mental health conditions as well. They did not find any clear associations between ovarian cysts and disorders like schizophrenia, personality disorders, tic syndrome, and autism. 

However, they reported an undeniable relationship between PCOS and bipolar disorder. They found that women with PCOS were much more prone to bipolar disorder than what was known before. 

Earlier research suggested that valproate (used to treat bipolar disorder) increased the risk of developing ovarian cysts, although how the two are associated is unknown. The researchers mentioned that valproate could partially explain the association between PCOS and bipolar disorder.

PCOS Symptoms

There are various symptoms of ovarian cysts, and these typically appear right after attaining puberty. It may also develop during late-teenage years and young adulthood. The symptoms may be misattributed to various causes and go unobserved, delaying its diagnosis.

The most apparent symptom is irregular or missed periods resulting from a lack of ovulation. Some develop cysts, while others do not. 

Other symptoms may be:

Hirsutism (unwanted hair growth) 

They may experience excessive hair growth on their face, back, chest, arms, abdomen, and even toes. Hormonal changes, particularly an increase in androgens, are the known causes of hirsutism.

Heavy, painful periods

PCOS can cause painful periods with heavy bleeding. This can cause additional issues, such as anemia, and is often unpleasant and even scary.

Pelvic Pain

Apart from heavy bleeding, women with ovarian cysts may complain of pelvic pain. Such pain may occur even when they are not on their periods.

Acne

Acne problems are common in women with PCOS and are associated with hormonal imbalances. Skin tags, hyperpigmentation, and other skin alterations are also associated with ovarian cysts.

Infertility

The predominant cause of infertility in women is PCOS. It is different for different women, as some may require help in conceiving, such as fertility treatments. Others may be able to become pregnant on their own. 

Weight gain. Nearly 50% of PCOS gain weight and may even become obese and find it challenging to manage their weight. 

Fatigue 

Most women with PCOS indicate feeling fatigued and lacking energy. There may be associated sleep disturbances, which further contribute toward fatigue. 

Mood changes

As we have already seen, ovarian cysts are associated with an increased risk of developing excessive mood swings and mental health conditions such as depressive and anxiety disorders.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and low quality of sleep, are common in women with ovarian cysts. Sleep apnea (pauses in breathing more often than usual while asleep) is particularly a problem in them.

Hair loss

Loss of hair related to ovarian cysts may worsen with age, increasing during the middle-age period. 

Headaches

Headaches are common due to hormonal imbalances. 

Causes of ovarian cysts

Although the exact cause of ovarian cysts is unknown, there are several speculated causes:

Hormonal imbalance

One type of cysts, known as functional cysts, can be due to hormonal imbalance. The drugs that women use to aid in ovulation may lead to hormonal imbalance. 

Early Stages of Pregnancy

Ovarian cysts may develop during this period to aid in the pregnancy until the development of the placenta. Occasionally, the cyst does not disappear and may extend into the later stages of pregnancy. If it becomes massive and painful, surgery may be required.

Abnormal cell growth

Cells of every organ typically alternate between growth and death before resolving. Sometimes, there can either be too much growth leading to the formation of a cyst or abnormal growth leading to cancer development. 

Pelvic Infections

If such infection festers and spreads to other areas like the fallopian tube or ovaries, ovarian cysts are likely to develop. 

Endometriosis

This problem causes pelvic pain and is due to the development of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.

Complications of Ovarian Cysts

Several complications associated with ovarian cysts are as follows:

  • An ovarian cyst may break open or rupture, which can lead to excessive blood and fluid loss. 
  • Based on the exact location, ovarian cysts can twist the fallopian tube, limiting the provision of blood to the impacted ovary. 
  • Those ovarian cysts related to PCOS or endometriosis can further contribute to infertility and inability to conceive.
  • Most of the ovarian cysts are benign, i.e., non-cancerous. With that said, those that form after menopause have an increased risk of being cancerous as cancer development typically increases with age. 

Treatment options

If left untreated, PCOS may impact the woman’s ability to lose weight, leading to the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and other complications. Endometrial cancer is also a risk because of hormonal imbalance. There is no cure as yet for ovarian cysts. 

However, there are a few standard treatment options currently being used, such as: 

  • Birth control pills are the commonly used treatment option to regulate hormones in women. 
  • Because of the association between PCOS and diabetes, certain diabetic medications are used for treating ovarian cysts. 
  • For obese or overweight women, weight management is recommended through diet and exercise as excess fat hinders hormonal balance.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we answered the question, “can ovarian cysts cause mood swings?” We gained insight into the research on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and mental health, PCOS symptoms, the causes of ovarian cysts, associated complications, and treatment options.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Can Ovarian Cysts Cause Mood Swings?

Can ovarian cysts lead to psychological issues?

Yes, ovarian cysts can lead to psychological issues. Those women suffering from chronic ovarian cyst condition are more susceptible to psychological problems. They are also likely to have children with mental health issues, such as autism and ADHD.

Do ovarian cysts lead to menstrual changes?

Yes, ovarian cysts lead to menstrual changes, such as heavy bleeding and irregular periods. These problems occur if the cyst leads to the production of sex hormones, which contribute to the expansion of the uterus lining. 

What happens when an ovarian cyst ruptures?

When an ovarian cyst ruptures, there is pain and discomfort, along with a sudden, sharp pain in the lower abdomen or back. Although the discomfort lasts for a few days, the symptoms can be relieved using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. 

How long do ovarian cysts last?

Most ovarian cysts disappear over time or do not change. However, physicians recommend against waiting and advise removal of benign cysts. 

Which food makes ovarian cysts worse?

Several foods influence cyst development, including:

White potatoes;
White bread;
Processed sugary foods like pastries, cakes, muffins;
Any food made with white or all-purpose flour.
Foods that contain refined carbohydrates and are highly processed are harmful.

Does a 4 cm ovarian cyst require the need for a check-up?

Yes, the enlargement of an ovary cyst over 4 centimeters can lead to continuous discomfort. This indicates that it is an abnormal cyst, and is crucial to get an early diagnosis to rule out possible diagnoses of endometriosis or cancer.

Can ovarian cysts go away after periods?

Yes, ovarian cysts can go away after periods. Ovarian cysts are most likely to be formed in the period between puberty and menopause. Taking fertility drugs can lead to the development of ovarian cysts, which go away after periods or pregnancy.

Does PCOS lead to anger?

Yes, PCOS can lead to anger and other emotionally unpleasant states, such as anxiety, stress, and irritability, due to hormonal changes. 

Can PCOS lead to anxiety?

Yes, PCOS can lead to anxiety and other psychological conditions, such as depression and eating disorders. These disorders may develop due to infertility, hirsutism, and obesity caused by hormonal imbalance. 

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29648599/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5600955/Chronic-ovarian-cysts-increase-womans-risk-mental-health-issues.html

https://www.pcosaa.org/pcos-symptoms

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539572/

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