Most women will experience a cyst in the ovaries at least once in their lifetime. These cysts are solid or fluid filled sacs that develop within or on the ovary. Usually they are painless and cause no symptoms; they may go unnoticed or be discovered during a routine pelvic exam. These cysts commonly disappear on their own within a few months. However, if they do not resolve spontaneously and continue to grow, they can cause pain and complications.
There are two common types of ovarian cysts:
Follicle cysts: In a normal menstrual cycle, the ovaries release an egg each month. The egg grows inside a tiny sac called a follicle. When the egg matures, the follicle breaks open to release the egg. Follicle cysts form when the follicle doesn't break open to release the egg. This causes the follicle to continue growing into a cyst. Follicle cysts often have no symptoms and go away in one to three months.
Corpus luteum cysts: Once the follicle breaks open and releases the egg, the empty follicle sac shrinks into a mass of cells called the corpus luteum. Corpus luteum cysts form if the sac doesn't shrink. Instead, the sac reseals itself after the egg is released, and then fluid builds up inside. Most corpus luteum cysts go away after a few weeks, but they can grow to almost four inches wide before they resolve.
Less common types of ovarian cysts include endometriomas, dermoids, and cystadenomas. Symptoms of any ovarian cyst may include dull pain in the lower back, pressure on the bladder or bowels, swelling and pain in the lower abdomen, pain during sex, cramping, and irregular or painful menstruation. Again, the most common types of cysts will disappear after a few menstrual cycles at most. In rare cases where a cyst continues to grow for months, surgery may be suggested.
Although most cysts are benign, some can be cancerous, especially in older women. For this reason you should always have cysts checked by a doctor. Most ovarian cysts do not affect your chances of getting pregnant. Sometimes, though, the illness causing the cyst can make it harder to get pregnant, such as in cases where the cyst is related to an underlying condition like endometriosis or PCOS.
Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements, and diet can be very powerful tools in resolving ovarian cysts, which in Chinese medicine are often seen as a buildup of dampness and stagnation in the pelvic region. Improving blood and fluid circulation as well as balancing hormones can help to mitigate the formation of such cysts in the body. If you are struggling with recurring ovarian cysts, contact us at TCRA so our reproductive specialists can bring you back into balance.