Can Ovarian Cysts Cause Infertility & Do They Impact Pregnancy
If you have gone to visit your doctor and they mention the words ‘ovarian cyst’, you might get overwhelmed or conclude that something is wrong right away. Before you do this, it’s essential to take time to breathe so you can understand the situation better. You need to consider the role cysts play in the reproductive process and remember they are commonly found in almost all premenopausal women.
However, there are rare cases where an ovarian cyst can become a primary cause of concern. For this reason, women are advised to get regular checkups at their OBGYN and know the signs and symptoms of severe ovarian cyst.
In this post, we shall look at the different types of ovarian cysts you need to know, their causes, and potential warning signs to help you know when they may have a negative effect on your fertility.
Do ovarian cysts have an impact on fertility?
If you’re wondering if ovarian cysts affect fertility or if you can conceive with ovarian cysts, then the honest answer is that your situation will determine everything.
Most of the time, cysts tend to be completely pain-free and harmless. It might surprise you that most women who are still in their reproductive age have one every month, but they never feel it.
But, some forms of ovarian cysts occur naturally during a reproductive cycle, and other kinds of cysts are harmful. For instance, some cysts are cancerous, and others could be caused by underlying conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
What are ovarian cysts?
Today, most people have heard about ovarian cysts, but they still don’t know much about them. If this is you, then you should consider reading on to know more.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled pockets or sacs that develop on the surface or inside an ovary. The cysts can affect both ovaries at the same time or one of them. Since ovaries release progesterone, estrogen, and the egg is needed to get pregnant, having an ovarian cyst can be quite a concern if you are still in your childbearing years. Whether you discover that it’s affecting one of your ovaries or both, you will likely worry about conceiving.
But, ovarian cysts are normal because they develop naturally in many women. The majority of them disappear on their own, so you won’t need to seek treatment. These kinds of ovarian cysts are known as functional cysts, and they appear in healthy ovaries – they are a normal part of ovarian function.
This doesn’t mean that all cases of ovarian cysts are harmless. The non-functional cysts tend to be less common, but they are cancerous, so they must be removed.
Other kinds of cysts you must be concerned about are those that are formed due to endometriosis polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS. Although the cysts may not be dangerous, they are often indicators of a more serious or harmful condition that could affect fertility.
What causes ovarian cysts?
There are various causes and reasons why women suffer from ovarian cysts. Health Direct Australia research shows the most common reasons why cysts develop on the ovaries are due to pregnancy, endometriosis, hormonal fluctuations, and pelvic infections.
Although the cysts that form due to an infection like endometriosis can cause concern, other cysts that develop during the early stages of pregnancy can help support the pregnancy until a placenta is fully formed. Besides, cysts formed due to natural hormonal fluctuations experienced throughout the menstrual cycle should not raise any concerns as they can resolve themselves within 1 to 3 months.
Most women who have ovarian cysts experience little or no discomfort and can manage to handle their daily lives without any issues. However, women who have cancerous cysts can experience noticeable or grave symptoms. Some common symptoms they may experience include swelling, bloating, and lower abdominal pain. Other less common ovarian cyst symptoms include:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Urge to urinate often
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain on thighs and lower back
In certain severe cases where cysts get ruptured or cause the ovary to twist, patients may experience sudden, sharp, or severe pain accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and fever. Although these symptoms vary from one individual to another, women who have cysts linked to endometriosis can get these ovarian cyst symptoms:
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful menstrual cramps accompanied by abdomen or lower back pain
- Painful bowel movements or urination
- Heavy menstrual flow
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that results in many small and unruptured follicles on the ovary, experience these symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Acne problem
- Increased body hair growth
- Irregular or missed periods
If you are experiencing any of the patient’s symptoms, it’s advisable to visit your doctor to get a detailed checkup. The healthcare provider will do some tests and diagnose and the most appropriate treatment if you have ovarian cysts.
Key types of ovarian cysts
An egg is developed inside a follicle on an ovary during every woman’s menstrual cycle. If the egg isn’t released after ovulation, the follicle will hold fluid forming a cyst. A follicular cyst is functional and can resolve itself unless it becomes too large. In that case, it will start to cause pain or even interrupt a menstrual cycle.
Corpus luteum cysts
This type of functional cyst can appear after the ovary releases an egg. The corpus luteum cyst is extremely common during the first pregnancy trimester, but it typically gets resolved by the end of the sixth month of pregnancy. If the corpus luteum cysts grow too large, twist, rupture, or become infected, you can expect complications.
A cystadenoma is a non-functional cyst that occurs outside the ovary. There are four types of cystadenomas: mucinous, endometrioid, serous, and seromucinous cystadenomas. Some cystadenomas can be filled with a watery fluid, while the rest contain mucus.
These forms of cysts are nonthreatening, but they can grow to be significant because they develop outside an ovary. While they are not cancerous, it is vital to remove them surgically if they are painful or grow larger.
A dermoid cyst is a non-functional cyst that sometimes develops from the same cells that make eggs in the ovaries. These cysts can be filled with muscle, hair, urinary tissue, or skin.
The critical risk with dermoid cysts is they can get infected or fractured. While they are usually nonthreatening, they can become cancerous in some rare cases and need to be removed surgically or via laparoscopy.
Which type of ovarian cyst can affect fertility?
If you are trying to get pregnant, it is perfectly understandable to want to know more about ovarian cysts. Most women want to know if ovarian cysts can cause infertility or if they affect fertility. Generally, most types of ovarian cysts don’t pose significant threats to fertility, but there are some cases where their presence can be a concern. For instance, if a woman develops cysts because of endometriosis or the condition occurs due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the patient must seek treatment as soon as possible.
Endometriosis affects about 11% of women in Australia and worldwide, and it is a condition where the tissue resembles the uterus lining gross outside the ovary or fallopian tube. In some instances, the tissue grows into areas outside the reproductive system, such as the lung, brain, rectum, bowels, bladder, and even skin. Patients with severe cases of endometriosis may develop cysts that contain endometrial fluid in the ovary, which is known as endometrioma.
Although it is possible to conceive, about 30 to 50% of women who suffer from endometriosis struggle to get pregnant. The presence of cysts indicates that one could have a severe case of endometriosis. This condition is one of the top causes of infertility in most women, so make sure you take any endometriosis symptoms seriously. Your doctor can advise and provide the best treatment depending on your condition.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where cysts presence could signal issues with fertility. Many women with PCOS develop various tiny fluid-filled cysts on ovaries and experience symptoms of PCOS like irregular periods accompanied by hormonal imbalances caused by fertility challenges.
Other than cysts associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, the other ovarian cyst forms don’t affect fertility. This includes dermoid cysts, corpus luteum cysts, follicular cysts, and cystadenomas.
Is there a chance of getting pregnant if you have ovarian cysts?
Women who have a functional ovarian cyst like dermoid cyst or cystadenoma can still get pregnant because their fertility and chances of conceiving will be unaffected. If you have unprotected sex regularly, you’ll have a 92% chance of conceiving within one year if you’re not yet 26 years old and an 82% chance of getting pregnant in a year if you are aged between 35 and 39.
If your doctor confirms that your ovarian cyst has developed because of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis complications, your chances of conceiving could be significantly affected.
In most mild to moderate endometriosis cases, about 70% of the affected women will still conceive even if they do not undergo treatment. However, the women who have severe cases of this condition will require treatment from a seasoned fertility expert because they may experience infertility.
At the moment, the statistics for women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) aren’t straightforward because of the variation in the causes and treatment options. Some doctors suggest that women with PCOS do not have conceiving challenges, but they may need to seek fertility treatments if necessary.
If you are struggling to conceive and think that ovarian cyst complications could be causing the problem, it’s better to book an appointment with a doctor right away. The healthcare provider will conduct a pelvic examination to check the cause of your problem and offer advice for treatments or further tests if necessary.
The fact that you need to seek medical attention doesn’t mean that you should get tense. Whatever it is, your doctor will help so you can conceive when you are ready. They may even recommend that you take ovulation and PCOS support fertility supplements like Conceive Plus after treatment to increase your pregnancy chances. These supplements strengthen your reproductive health by regulating ovulation and dealing with hormone irregularities and PCOS.