Ovarian Cysts Come in Various Sizes and Forms
In Our Austin Fertility Center, we want to de-mystify ovarian cysts and explain what they can mean for your fertility.
Understanding how ovarian cysts develop and affect fertility can help you make decisions about treatment for infertility. The basic definition of an ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac contained within the ovary. Almost all ovarian cysts in women of reproductive age are benign (i.e. not cancerous) and can form at any point during your cycle.
Several different types of cysts can develop in women of reproductive age, including:
Follicular cyst – The most common form of ovarian cyst. A follicular cyst develops when the egg inside is not released.
Endometrioma – Also known as a chocolate cyst, an endometrioma forms when a piece of endometrial lining travels backward through the Fallopian tube and attaches to the ovary. Every month, when a woman’s uterine lining bleeds, this piece of lining bleeds as well. It eventually burrows into the ovary itself, forming the cyst. This type of ovarian cyst indicates that the woman has endometriosis.
Dermoid cyst – A dermoid cyst is a benign cyst that can contain several different types of tissue, such as hair, fat, and occasionally bone or cartilage.
Hemorrhagic cyst – This term indicates that the cyst contains blood.
How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
Because physical symptoms can be very non-specific, your TFC doctor will typically make a diagnosis of an ovarian cyst by performing a transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound.
Symptoms of an ovarian cyst may include:
- Constant or intermittent abdominal pain
- Irregular periods or vaginal bleeding
- Swelling or bloating in the abdominal or pelvic area
- Breast tenderness
How do ovarian cysts affect fertility?
Ovarian cysts may impact fertility in several ways. Women with ovarian cysts may experience:
- A delay in the start of your treatment cycle
- A decrease in your chance of getting pregnant, particularly in the presence of an endometrioma.
Twisting, or torsion, of the ovary, which can rarely occur when a cyst becomes very enlarged. Ovarian twisting is a surgical emergency and may lead to removal of the ovary if it is not treated quickly enough.