Ovarian Cysts

Imagine holding a tiny sac containing fluid or semi-solid material. That is what a cyst is like. Cysts can grow almost anywhere in your body or under your skin. There are many types of cysts but most cysts are benign or noncancerous, painless and usually go away on their own. An ovarian cyst during pregnancy is usually no cause for worry.

These ovarian cysts form within or on the surface of a woman’s ovary. They can vary in size from half an inch to four inches, and they usually develop during the childbearing years or after menopause. About 7 per cent (7%) of women worldwide have an ovarian cyst at some time.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are several types of ovarian cysts:

Follicular cysts: form when the follicle holding the egg doesn’t open and release the egg during ovulation but holds it in instead, forming a cyst.

Corpus luteum cysts: develop after ovulation. Usually, after an egg is released from the follicle the follicle shrinks. If the follicle doesn’t shrink but instead fluid collects in it, it forms a corpus luteum cyst.

Cystadenoma cysts grow on the outer surface of the ovary and are benign (non-cancerous). They can get quite large and are solid.

Endometriomas might form when a woman has endometriosis (a condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, often on the ovaries). They are also called chocolate cysts and are filled with blood.

When the ovaries make many small cysts, it’s called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can cause fertility problems and lead to diabetes later in life.

How Will I Know I Have Ovarian Cyst during Pregnancy

Your caregiver will do regular ultrasounds to monitor your ovaries and make sure no cysts grow or threaten to cause any problems.

Ovarian cysts don’t normally cause symptoms, although if a cyst ruptures it can be painful and cause sudden severe pain, fever, vomiting, faintness or weakness and rapid breathing.

If a cyst twists or causes the ovary to twist (called ovarian torsion) it can result in nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. It is a medical emergency and as such you need to visit the hospital immediately.

Ovarian Torsion

Also, a growing cyst could cause problems during childbirth, particularly if it’s a large mass obstructing the abdomen or pelvis. While it’s usually not necessary, doctors can safely remove an ovarian cyst during pregnancy.

Ovarian Cyst Treatments

Usually ovarian cysts don’t require treatment. They go away on their own. Unless:

You have an ovarian cyst that ruptures. In this case, you will likely need pain medication. Usually your body will absorb the ruptured cyst, but your healthcare provider will recommend rest and monitor you for signs of infection.

You have an ovarian torsion (the cyst causes the ovary to twist). This is a medical emergency that requires surgery.

The cyst is large or causing symptoms. Your caregiver may recommend rest and possibly surgery.

Is It Safe To Remove An Ovarian Cyst During Pregnancy?

If necessary, an ovarian cyst can be safely removed during pregnancy, though your caregiver will probably avoid removal unless you’re in pain or the cyst is bleeding. If you need surgery, you may be able to have minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery through tiny incisions. In some cases, though, regular abdominal surgery is necessary.

If you have a corpus luteum cyst removed early in pregnancy (before 10 weeks), you’ll likely take progesterone supplements afterwards to support the pregnancy. (Normally, the corpus luteum provides progesterone to support the pregnancy until the placenta takes over.)