Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs that can develop on or inside an ovary. These cysts can occur on one or both ovaries at the same time. Ovarian cysts are very common and will usually disappear naturally without treatment after a few months. In most cases, they cause little to no discomfort and usually do not lead to problems, so you might not even notice if you have ovarian cysts. Some cysts, however, may impact your quality of life or even negatively affect your fertility.
How to get pregnant with ovarian cysts
If you’re planning to get pregnant with ovarian cysts, there are five simple steps you can follow to improve your chances of conceiving.
Step 1. Recognize the signs of ovarian cysts
Knowing how to get pregnant with ovarian cysts starts with recognizing their signs and symptoms, which can vary widely depending on the individual. While some people with ovarian cysts may not feel any pain or symptoms at all, others might experience anything from mild discomfort that comes and goes to sudden and sharp aches.
Ovarian cysts usually don’t cause noticeable symptoms, especially if they’re smaller in size. If your ovarian cyst causes symptoms, the most common would be dull or sharp pain, pressure, bloating, or swelling in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst that may come and go.
In the event that ovarian cysts grow to be very large, block off blood supply to the ovaries, or rupture, you may experience less common symptoms including:
- Pelvic pain that is sharp and severe in the lower abdomen if a cyst ruptures
- Pelvic pain with nausea and vomiting if a cyst causes twisting of an ovary
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel completely
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
- Persistent feeling of fullness despite eating very little
If you have cysts from endometriosis, you may experience:
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy or painful menses
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Painful urination or defecation
- Back pain
- Vomiting or nausea
If you have cysts from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you may experience:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Irregular or no ovulation
- Increased growth of body hair
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Growth of skin tags
Step 2. Confirm a diagnosis with your healthcare provider
If you feel any of the symptoms above, it’s best to get it checked out by your healthcare provider who can perform some diagnostic tests to see if you really have ovarian cysts. These can include a pelvic exam where your gynecologist may inspect your pelvis for any lumps, an ultrasound to see if there are cysts on your ovaries, or a laparoscopy in which your doctor inserts a tool with a camera into your lower abdomen to remove any cysts if necessary.
Step 3. Rest assured that most ovarian cysts don’t affect fertility
Don’t panic if you happen to be diagnosed with ovarian cysts, as it’s often not as scary as it seems. It’s natural to assume that it’s either not possible or very difficult to get pregnant with ovarian cysts. Fortunately, having ovarian cysts may not actually impact your chances of getting pregnant. Ovarian cysts that don’t usually affect fertility include:
Functional cysts: These are the most common type of ovarian cysts and include follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts. They develop on the surface of the ovary during a woman’s menstrual cycle and usually go away on their own without treatment after several menstrual cycles. You usually won’t notice if you have functional cysts as they don’t typically show signs or symptoms. An exception to this is if a cyst grows to be too big and ruptures, which would cause pain and possibly affect pregnancy. If you notice sudden or severe pain, you should consult with a healthcare provider for further evaluation.
Cystadenomas: These are a type of benign tumor of the ovaries. They generally don’t affect fertility, although if they grow to be very large, you may want to get them removed.
Dermoid cysts: These are usually harmless and rarely cancerous, though they may cause complications depending on their size and where they are growing. Dermoid cysts do not usually affect fertility.
Summary: Overall, functional cysts, cystadenomas, and dermoid cysts do not cause infertility.
Step 4. Know that some ovarian cysts impact fertility
While most ovarian cysts are not a cause for concern, there are some exceptions that may impact fertility. Understanding that some ovarian cysts can make it more difficult to get pregnant is a key step in planning how to get pregnant with ovarian cysts.
If you are trying to get pregnant, you may want to monitor two types of ovarian cysts – those resulting from PCOS and those from endometriosis. These ovarian cysts may negatively impact fertility so you may want to seek treatment for them if you want to get pregnant.
Cysts resulting from endometriosis: Endometriomas are cysts caused by endometriosis, which is a condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus. These ovarian endometriomas are also termed chocolate cysts because they are filled with dark brown blood. If the endometriomas remain small, they may not be a cause for concern. However, if they grow to be large or rupture, some sort of intervention may be required. Therefore, endometriomas have the potential to cause infertility, especially in severe cases.
Cysts resulting from PCOS: PCOS is one of the most common reasons for female infertility. It can cause many small cysts to develop in the ovaries. Due to hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS, many women can find it difficult to get pregnant. The good news is that there are ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS. By consulting your doctor and taking steps to manage PCOS symptoms, whether through a PCOS diet plan, lifestyle modifications, or medication, PCOS does not have to lead to infertility.
Summary: Endometriosis and PCOS each have the potential to lead to infertility if these conditions are not properly addressed.
Step 5. Consider treatment options for problematic ovarian cysts
If your healthcare provider confirms that you have ovarian cysts, you may be offered several therapy and non-therapy options depending on the type, size, or severity of your cysts.
Watchful waiting: Many cysts go away on their own, so your doctor may choose to simply monitor your cysts with repeat ultrasound exams. These ultrasounds might take place within weeks or months of your diagnosis. If the cysts disappear, which they often do after one or two menstrual cycles, then no treatment is needed.
Managing underlying health conditions: If you have cysts that stem from underlying problems such as endometriosis and PCOS, it’s important to manage these conditions directly. By addressing these health conditions, it’s possible that risk of infertility can be minimized.
Medication: In some cases, medication may be needed to prevent future complications. One solution is to give hormonal birth control to stop ovulation and prevent the development of future ovarian cysts.
Surgery: If your cysts grow to be especially large, cause severe pain, or if there are concerns that the cysts are cancerous or could become cancerous, then surgery would likely be recommended. The two types of surgery used to remove ovarian cysts include a laparoscopy which is usually recommended for smaller cysts that do not appear to be cancerous, or a laparotomy if the cysts are large or potentially cancerous.
Summary: Ovarian cysts most likely go away on their own after a couple menstrual cycles and are unlikely to impact your ability to conceive. However, if you’re trying to get pregnant with ovarian cysts, there are many treatment options available (managing underlying health conditions, medication, or surgery) in case the cysts turn out to be very large or concerning. Your doctor will be able to let you know the best approach for your specific type of ovarian cyst.
Being diagnosed with ovarian cysts when you’re trying to conceive isn’t always as scary as it sounds. By combining your knowledge of these 5 steps on how to get pregnant with ovarian cysts along with a physician consultation, you should be well on your way to improving your fertility and odds of conception.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.
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