A widespread condition in female health is the prevalence of ovarian cysts. Usually these cysts are small and have no symptoms. They are common in women of child bearing age. There are different types of cyst:
– Functional: they are formed as a result of menstruation for two general reasons. First, when the follicle that has to open to release an egg doesn’t open correctly (follicular cyst) and, second, because once the follicle has released the egg it closes again (luteum cyst). These types of cyst tend to disappear in 6-8 weeks and don’t usually have any obvious symptoms, except delaying menstruation.
– Dermoid: they are produced by cells that are able to develop from any tissue. They are usually there from birth and grow slowly throughout the years when female reproductive health is active. They generally have few symptoms, although if they grow they can become twisted and cause pain. When diagnosed, they should be removed to prevent uncontrolled growth and to prevent them from becoming malignant, although this is unlikely.
– Cystadenomas: they are formed by cells on the outer surface of the ovary. They are usually benign but, like Dermoid cysts, they need to be monitored as they can cause ovarian torsion or can become malignant when they get big.
– Endometriomas: they are cysts that develop out of endometrial tissue growing outside the uterine cavity. They are a related condition of endometriosis and are hormone dependent, which means that they tend to get bigger during menstrual cycles and other hormonal treatments. When they exceed 3 cm in diameter these cysts should be removed.
Generally, these cysts are benign and rarely become malignant. However, to ensure that they are harmless, periodic check-ups are essential as is surgery if necessary. As mentioned before, if these cysts remain small they do not usually cause women any problems or symptoms. However, if they grow, reactions can be triggered in the ovaries, resulting in discomfort and pain.
These cysts are detected through a simple vaginal ultrasound and can be removed though laparoscopic surgery if necessary.
How do cysts affect fertility?
The presence of cysts in the ovaries can affect fertility in different ways. First, they take up space in the ovary which stops the development of normal follicles containing viable eggs. Second, ovarian torsion caused by the enlargement of a cyst may stop the blood flow to the ovary, causing it to stop working. Endometriosis cysts generate a toxic environment in the ovary making the quality of eggs produced in patients with endometriosis much lower.
Functional cysts cause hormonal disorder that can interfere with menstruation and ovulation, which may condition fertility during the time that the cysts are there. However, this period of time is usually self-limited and does not cause long-term problems.
Do cysts prevent pregnancy?
In general having cysts does not prevent pregnancy from occurring but, as was mentioned before, they can affect fertility.
If functional cysts cause inadequate hormone production during the cycle, or prevent ovulation from occurring, getting pregnant naturally while the cysts are there won’t be possible.
Fertility clinics like ProcreaTec conduct in-depth research into patients’ cases so that pathologies can be diagnosed quickly and personalised treatments can be prescribed to reduce or eliminate these cysts if necessary, which can on occasions prevent pregnancy from occurring.