| Do Ovarian Cysts Cause Fertility Problems?
Yes, some types of ovarian cysts (but not all) can cause fertility problems. It depends on which type of ovary cysts you have.
Cysts That DO Affect Fertility
The two types that affect your chance of having a baby are:
1. PCOS: Ovarian cysts resulting from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause fertility issues. PCOS is a condition associated with an imbalance of the sex hormones FSH, LH, estrogen and testosterone. Signs of PCOS include infertility (due to lack of ovulation), excess facial hair, irregular periods and insulin resistance. Women who wish to become pregnant with PCOS may need the help of a fertility clinic or specialist. Fertility drugs like Clomid and Serophene are often prescribed to increase the chance of ovulation. If this doesn't work, hormone therapy is usually the next step. Alternatively ovarian drilling may be recommended - with this procedure the surgeon drills into the ovaries destroying a part of them. The intention is to kick-start the ovulation process.
How long does it take to get pregnant with PCOS?
Can you get pregnant naturally with PCOS?
What is the difference between PCOS and ovarian cysts?
2. Endometriomas: These are cysts caused by endometriosis, a condition where the cells (endometrial cells) that line the inside of the uterus attach themselves to other areas of the body and grow. If they attach to the ovaries they are called endometriomas cysts (pictures). In the ovaries they form into blood filled cysts that can cause painful periods, cramping and infertility. Two in every five women diagnosed with endometriomas will have fertility problems. While studies show that removing mild endometriosis does NOT increase fertility, it appears that in moderate or severe cases surgery DOES seem to improve chances of becoming pregnant. Then again in some severe or urgent infertility cases doctors often recommend skipping treatment and opting straight for IVF therapy.
Can endometriosis cause missed periods?
Cysts That Do NOT Affect Fertility
The three types of ovarian cysts that do not cause infertility are:
1. Functional Cysts: Functional cysts are the most common type of ovarian cysts. They are fluid filled cysts (like blisters) that develop in or on the ovaries during a woman's menstrual cycle. In most cases they remain harmlessly diagnosed and disappear within a few weeks. Occasionally they can cause pelvic pain or heavy periods if they do not clear up. However, one type of functional cyst called corpus luteum is associated with missed periods which may make it a little more difficult to conceive. See, can ovarian cysts cause a missed period?
2. Cystadenomas: These are a rare form of functional cysts. They differ in that they can grow very large (picture). In rare cases cystadenomas can become cancerous. Although they need treatment (surgical removal) they do not affect fertility. See also, do ovarian cysts usually need to be surgically removed?
3. Dermoid Cysts: Dermoid cysts contain bits of human tissue like hair, skin, hair or even teeth (instead of fluid). They are not associated with infertility unless they remain untreated and rupture.
Bottom Line: If you have problem conceiving, talk to your gynecologist. They will perform a fertility test and you can take things from there.
How does a doctor test for infertility in women?
What is the best position for baby making?
How long does it take to get pregnant?
Diagram and pictures: The female body and the human body.
When things go wrong with your body: Reproductive system disorders.
From puberty to pregnancy and beyond: Development of the female body.
• Need more information? See: Guide to Infertility and Guide to Ovarian Cysts.
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions
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