What are ovarian cysts?
Many patients are surprised to discover they have an ovarian cyst upon ultrasound. Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs that form on an ovary or its surface. Most ovarian cysts form due to hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle and ovulation. These simple cysts are generally harmless and typically go away on their own without treatment. They are very common and most of the time you will have little to no discomfort.
Sometimes, however, ovarian cysts can form due to other reasons. One type are endometriomas caused by endometriosis. With this condition, cells similar to those that line the inside of the uterus grow also on the ovaries and form tissue and blood-filled cysts.
Other types of cysts are fluid-filled cystadenomas or tissue filled dermoid cysts. Dermoid cysts contain solid human tissue, sometimes even hair or teeth. Both of these types are uncommon but can grow quite large and cause problems. These also can become so large that they sometimes twist or rupture and can cause pelvic pain. They may also give you a heavy or bloated feeling in your abdomen.
Still other ovarian cysts are a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that causes your ovaries to produce many egg follicles that cannot release the eggs inside them. Instead, the immature eggs die off and the follicles fill with fluid and grow bigger. With PCOS there will typically be many of these cysts present at any one time on the ovary. They can be see via an ultrasound and are often called a “string of pearls” because they are peripherally located in the ovary. A polycystic ovary may be up to three times larger than normal.
Can ovarian cysts interfere with trying to conceive?
This is a good question for our Baton Rouge and Lafayette based fertility specialists. The answer is that it depends on what type of cyst a patient has and if they have any other fertility issues. Generally, you should be concerned about your fertility if your ovarian cyst is caused by endometriosis or PCOS. When these types of cysts are identified, our fertility specialists can help develop a customized treatment plant to help you get pregnant.
While most ovarian cysts will resolve on their own, sometimes treatment is needed if you would like to conceive. Most often, our physicians can drain or remove the cyst through laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery in which a few small incisions are made in the abdomen before inserting a tiny lighted camera and surgical instruments. This procedure is done on an out-patient basis and results in very little downtime.
Non-surgical treatment for patients with endometriosis or PCOS who would like to conceive is available. Our infertility specialists can recommend treatments with fertility medications and IVF to help with pregnancy and building a family.
Explore your options by contacting us for an appointment with one of our fertility team members.