Do you frequently get ovarian cysts? Health's medical expert weighs in on how it might affect your fertility.
Q: I'm prone to ovarian cysts. Does that affect my fertility?
It depends on the type of ovarian cyst. A common type, called a functional cyst, can form as part of a normal menstrual cycle and typically doesn’t contribute to infertility. Usually these cysts are nothing to worry about and disappear on their own within a few menstrual cycles without any treatment. If you’re prone to this type, your gynecologist may want to screen you periodically for functional cysts through ultrasounds to monitor their occurrence and size. The one time a functional cyst could affect fertility is when it grows very large and creates an obstacle for the fertilization process.
Cysts that form in connection to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, on the other hand, can be linked to fertility problems. Women with endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, may develop cysts called endometriomas, which can obstruct the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus and cause infertility. PCOS is associated with irregular ovulation, which may lead to fertility issues for some women. If you’ve been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and you’re trying to get pregnant or have plans to, your gynecologist can guide you on what treatment you may need (if any) to optimize your fertility.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.