Ovarian cysts and fertility

ovarian cysts

The ovaries are female glands which produce eggs and release sex hormones. They are located in the lower abdomen, one of each side of the uterus. The ovarian cyst is a quite common gynecological disease in women during their fertile age.  They are fluid-filled sacs that are produced in the ovaries or ovarian lining. What kind of ovarian cysts can affect fertility?

Although many ovarian cysts are asymptomatic and disappear on their own without any treatment, others can cause more problems and affect a woman’s fertility especially when they interfere with the normal ovulation process. If this aspect remains untouched, they do not imply a problem for fertility.

Do ovarian cysts affect fertility?

Ovarian cysts are not an obstacle from achieving pregnancy; however they can turn into a difficulty and have a negative influence on fertility. They are usually asymptomatic when they have a small size, not malignant and can be observed through vaginal ultrasounds. However, it is always advisable being subjected to regular monitoring and gynaecological check up.

Most ovarian cysts are functional, that is, produced by the typical hormone changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle. They usually disappear on their own within 6 to 8 weeks and do not present suggestive symptoms (except for some menstrual delay). They include:

  • Follicular cysts: it occurs when the follicle doesn’t break to release the egg and it fills with fluid. It usually disappears within a few months without treatment.
  • Corpora lutea cysts: it occurs when the follicle which released the egg accumulates fluid inside. It usually disappear within a few weeks but in other cases it can become more than 4 cm in diameter causing pelvic or abdominal pain.

There are other kind of ovarian cysts such as:

  • Dermoid cysts: are benign and do not affect fertility.  It can arise from embryo cells so it can contain sebum tissue, hair, cartilage, bones.
  • Endometroid cysts: chocolate cysts which are filled with brown fluid that is made up of blood from the endometrial tissue. They can grow in the ovaries and replace the normal ovarian tissue. It is a kind of endometriosis which can cause pain and infertility.
  • Cystadenoma cysst: they develop outside the ovary and if they are large can cause severe pain. These kind of cysts are usually benign and do not have a negative influence on the fertility of women.

Symptoms of ovarian cysts

Most ovarian cysts are small and do not present any symptoms so they can only be diagnosed through transvaginal ultrasounds during regular gynaecological visits.  Larger cysts (greater than 6 centimeters) can cause severe pelvic pain. In this case some of the following symptoms might be experienced:

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Pelvic pain throughout the entire menstruation period
  • Abdominal distension or inflammation
  • Nausea or vomiting

Although some cysts do not affect fertility, it is necessary seeing a specialist when a couple is facing conceiving problems while trying to achieve the pregnancy.

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