Ovarian Cysts & Your Fertility: What You Should Know

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries and are extremely common. They form naturally during ovulation. Fortunately, most ovarian cysts develop and go away naturally and do not cause any symptoms. However, eight percent of premenopausal women develop large cysts that need medical treatment.

Women who develop large ovarian cysts have an increased risk of infection. Infected cysts may lead to a pelvic infection and leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes, which may be the cause of some infertility.

How do ovarian cysts affect your fertility?

While most ovarian cysts do not affect your chances of getting pregnant and resolve on their own, some can be associated with decreased fertility. To clarify, it is the illness causing the cyst that makes it more difficult to get pregnant, such as:

  • Endometriosis
    Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus (womb) grows outside of the uterus. Cysts caused by endometriosis are called endometriomas. These ovarian cysts may be associated with fertility problems like chronic inflammation, anatomic distortion of the fallopian tubes and reduced endometrial receptivity (which affects the embryo’s ability to implant).
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    PCOS is a condition in which many small cysts develop on your ovaries, causing irregular periods and high levels of certain hormones. PCOS is associated with irregular ovulation, which may contribute to fertility problems in some women.

Surgical treatment for large ovarian cysts

If your ovarian cyst requires surgery, your doctor will determine if it can be isolated and removed, or if the entire ovary is compromised. Surgery can be done in two different ways:

  • Laparoscopy
    With this surgery, the doctor makes a very small incision near your belly button to remove the cyst. This is often recommended for smaller cysts that appear benign (noncancerous) on the ultrasound.
  • Laparotomy
    This method may be preferred if the cyst is large and potentially cancerous. Laparotomy uses a slightly larger incision in the abdomen to allow for removal of the cyst. The cyst is then tested for cancer.

The best way to protect your fertility and your health from the dangers of ovarian cysts is to get annual check-ups. Preventive screening and early intervention are the best ways to protect yourself and your fertility. If you are in need of highly-skilled fertility surgery in Columbus, Akron, Canton and Youngstown, contact the reproductive specialists at Reproductive Gynecology & Infertility at 866-537-2461.

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