Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on your ovaries. They’re extremely common, and many women have at least one cyst during their menstrual cycle each month.
Most ovarian cysts are small and noncancerous. They typically don’t cause symptoms and they go away on their own. But for about 8% of premenopausal women, ovarian cysts could indicate an underlying health condition and affect their chances of getting pregnant.
Ovarian cysts grow on your ovaries, but having cysts doesn’t necessarily mean infertility. Samuel Van Kirk, MD, and our gynecology team specialize in ovarian cysts, and we’re here to help you understand what your diagnosis could mean for your fertility.
Cysts can form almost anywhere in your body. When they develop on or in your ovaries, they’re called ovarian cysts. There are several different kinds of ovarian cysts, and the type of cyst you have determines how it affects your health and your fertility.
The most common cysts are functional cysts, and they include follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts. These cysts form during your normal menstrual cycle, and they aren’t linked to infertility.
Eggs form inside small sacs called follicles in your ovaries. When you ovulate, a follicle releases a mature egg to be fertilized, and the follicle shrinks.
A follicle cyst develops if the follicle doesn’t open properly and continues growing instead. Follicle cysts are usually painless and disappear on their own in a few months.
After a mature egg is released, the follicle shrinks into a cluster of cells called a corpus luteum. A corpus luteum cyst may form if the sac seals up instead of shrinking. Corpus luteum cysts may cause pain or bleeding if they grow too large.
Most functional cysts go away on their own without medical intervention, and they don’t affect fertility. In fact, they indicate that your menstrual cycle is normal. However, two common gynecologic conditions also cause ovarian cysts, and these conditions can cause infertility.
Endometriosis is a common gynecologic condition that affects up to 11% of women. If you have endometriosis, the tissue that lines your uterus starts growing elsewhere in your pelvis. It can cause inflammation, pelvic pain, and heavy menstrual bleeding, but it may also cause endometriomas, a type of ovarian cyst.
Endometriomas form when endometrial tissue grows inside your ovaries. This symptom usually only develops in severe cases, and affects about 8% of women who have endometriosis. Having endometriomas and endometriosis could increase your risk of infertility.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the top causes of infertility in women, and it affects about 10% of women. PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalance, and it’s characterized by numerous pearl-sized cysts on ovaries.
PCOS interferes with ovulation, which means you may have an irregular menstrual cycle or no menstrual cycle at all. You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, and PCOS may make getting pregnant difficult.
The good news is that PCOS is treatable, and treatment can improve your fertility.
You don’t have to navigate an ovarian cyst diagnosis alone. Partner with Dr. Van Kirk and our team in Redding, California, to learn more about cysts, treatment options, and how it may affect your fertility. Contact us online or call the office today.