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Female Infertility

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts come in different sizes and forms

The team at our Austin fertility center wants to demystify ovarian cysts and explain how they can affect your fertility. Understanding how ovarian cysts develop and what they mean for your reproductive potential can help you make informed decisions about your treatment.

What are ovarian cysts?

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, or non-cancerous, and can form at any point during the menstrual cycle.

Several types of cysts can develop in women of reproductive age, including:

  • Follicular cysts are the most common. This type of cyst develops when the egg inside the ovary is not released. Follicular cysts typically resolve on their own after a few menstrual cycles. You may not even know you have one.
  • Endometriomas are also known as chocolate cysts. They form when a piece of the endometrial lining travels through the Fallopian tube and attaches to the ovary. Every month, when a woman’s uterine lining bleeds, this piece of lining also bleeds. It eventually burrows into the ovary to form a cyst. This type of ovarian cyst indicates that the woman has endometriosis, which may require treatment at our Austin fertility center.
  • Dermoid cysts are benign cysts that can contain different types of tissue, including hair, fat, and occasionally bone or cartilage. The surgeons at our Austin fertility center can remove these cysts using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.
  • Hemorrhagic cysts contain blood. If this type of cyst spills the blood into the abdomen, it can cause severe pain. However, hemorrhagic cysts usually do not burst.

How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?

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
  • Fatigue

Because physical symptoms of a cyst can be nonspecific, your physician at our Austin fertility center will typically make a diagnosis of an ovarian cyst by performing a transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound.

How do ovarian cysts affect fertility?

Ovarian cysts may affect fertility in several ways. If you have ovarian cysts, you may experience:

  • A delay in the start of your treatment cycle
  • A decrease in your chance of becoming pregnant, particularly in the presence of an endometrioma.

Twisting, or torsion, of the ovary can sometimes occur when a cyst becomes enlarged. Although it is rare, ovarian twisting is a surgical emergency that may lead to removal of the ovary if it is not treated quickly enough.

Our Austin fertility center is home to experienced physicians who know how to treat ovarian cysts to improve fertility and quality of life. While many cysts will resolve on their own, others will need treatment. In some cases, birth control pills are an effective treatment for ovarian cysts, but other women will need minimally invasive surgery to remove the cyst.

Contact us to schedule an appointment at our Austin fertility center and learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cysts.