As a woman, discussing reproductive health is brave because of the stigmas that can be attached to it. At only 18 years of age, Marsai Martin, the Black-ish alum, penned a powerful and emotional piece sharing her personal story on ovarian cysts.
The young icon learned she had a ‘grapefruit-sized ovarian cyst contributing to her painful periods.’ As soon as she received the medical diagnosis, she did what every young adult does- check the internet for more details. When searching for information, she couldn’t find first-person accounts from people she could relate to. At that moment, she decided she “could be that voice for people and fill that void.”
Marsai Martin is now highly vocal about her life story to encourage other women to speak up about their pain. Since she started the conversation- in true sisterly fashion- we’re contributing to it. Therefore, we spoke to board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Carla Williams, MD., to provide a medical understanding of what an ovarian cyst is and how it impacts young women. We want to contribute to normalizing meaningful conversations about reproductive health.
First and foremost, what are ovarian cysts? Williams, MD., defines it as “growth within the ovaries that can be composed of different tissues. It can have fluid, liquid, or solid components.” Essentially, it’s a sac filled with stuff sitting on ovaries. To understand how it gets there, it’s helpful to understand the reproduction process.
As described on health.com, the typical monthly process is as follows: hormones stimulate sacs containing immature eggs, but only one of those sacs fully matures. It grows bigger until it eventually bursts and releases an egg. When a woman has an ovarian cyst, the sac may not burst, trapping the egg cell and other components on top of the ovary. That is the most frequent example.
Certain types of ovarian cysts are “common,” Williams, MD., describes. “Functional cysts are pretty common and benign. And they’re not worrisome. They typically go away after a couple of cycles.” If a cyst has specific characteristics, then a woman should be concerned. That characteristic is mainly it being “substantial in size,” she elaborates. That’s dangerous because ” it can twist on itself and cause a lot of pain, causing you to potentially lose an ovary because it blocks the blood flow and the blood supply to that ovary where the cyst originates.” Fortunately, scenarios of that sort are rare in younger patients, she stated.
On the unfortunate side, ovarian cysts are not preventable. It comes with the territory of being a female. Since it’s related to ovulation, “oftentimes, providers will prescribe birth control pills because birth control pills suppress ovulation. So that would minimize the chances of you developing those specific types of physical functional cysts,” Williams, MD., states. That’s typically the only solution if an ovarian cyst is not detrimental. If it’s large, it can be either drained (if filled with liquid) or surgically removed.
Now that you understand the nature of ovarian cysts, do not be afraid to speak up about any pelvic pain or discomfort. View conversations and evaluations of your reproductive system as productive. Women help women by normalizing these topics.
About the author: Shelby Denise Smith is a full-time Social Media Editor and part-time Freelance Writer. She loves writing about news, wellness, and beauty and hosting impactful conversations with influencers and experts on those subjects.