Get Started Today!
Female Infertility

Disorders of the Ovary

Learn more about ovarian disorders from our Austin fertility experts

Our Austin fertility center knows that different types of ovarian disorders can plague the ovaries during their active lifetime. Before understanding ovarian disorders, it’s important to know how the ovaries work.

The ovaries are part of a woman’s reproductive system and store all the eggs that a woman is born with. When puberty occurs, the ovaries become active and typically release one egg every month. Over time, a woman loses eggs, both through ovulation and the degradation of un-ovulated eggs over time. Menopause occurs when the egg supply and quality is so poor that menstrual cycles cease to occur.

Ovarian cysts are common types of ovarian disorders

One kind of ovarian cyst is normal to have on a monthly basis. This is a functional cyst (or follicle). This type of cyst has a ripening egg inside that releases at the right time in the menstrual cycle. If sperm is present at the time of release, pregnancy may occur. Typically, these cysts go away within one to two weeks, but occasionally they can persist longer.

Other kinds of ovarian cysts are forms of ovarian disorders. Endometriomas (ovarian cysts filled with endometriosis) can cause pain and infertility. Fertility doctors typically refer to them as “chocolate cysts” because the endometriosis fluid can look like melted chocolate at the time of surgery. The team at our Austin fertility center can typically see these cysts on an ultrasound.

Dermoid cysts are ovarian cysts filled with hair, teeth and sebaceous fluid. If they become large they can cause pain. However, they do not cause infertility. These cysts usually appear on an ultrasound.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is another one of the ovarian disorders

PCOS is a poorly understood hormonal disorder in which the ovaries are enlarged with many little cysts at the edges. Patients with PCOS typically suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, acne, and excessive hair growth or loss.

Although doctors once only diagnosed PCOS in overweight and obese women, even women with normal and low body weight can have PCOS. Treatment strategies for PCOS at our Austin fertility center depend on the patient’s current interest in fertility.

Premature ovarian failure is yet another type of ovarian disorder

The average age at which a woman undergoes menopause is 51. Some women will experience menopause much earlier. If menopause occurs before the age of 40, it is called premature ovarian failure (or primary ovarian insufficiency). In most cases, the reason for early ovarian failure is unknown. However, some genetic and autoimmune problems can contribute to this type of ovarian disorder.

Other kinds of ovarian disorders are less common in the reproductive-aged women

Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease. Luckily, it is rare in women who are not yet menopausal. Patients with a family history of certain cancers (including breast, ovarian and colon) may benefit from additional screening.

Sometimes, the ovaries do not form properly during development. These patients have a condition called gonadal dysgenesis. Patients with this type of ovarian disorder often need hormone therapy to maximize their health. There can be a variety of fertility options available for patients who are interested in growing their family at our Austin fertility center.

The ovaries are intricate and complex reproductive organs. Specialists at our Austin fertility center can help diagnose and treat a variety of ovarian disorders and maximize personal medical health and options for fertility. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Find More More with Erika Munch, MD

Dr Erika Munch - Why Irregular Cycles Matter in Fertility