Could Ovarian Cysts Be Hindering Your Fertility?

If you've spent more than a few months trying to conceive your first child, you may be wondering whether you could have fertility problems. But before you head off to a reproductive endocrinologist for heavy-duty testing and treatment, you might want to visit your gynecologist to rule out ovarian cysts as a cause. Fortunately, these cysts are easily treatable in most cases, and this treatment may be sufficient in itself to allow you to get pregnant. Read on to learn more about the types of ovarian cysts that may dampen your fertility, as well as what you can do to treat these issues.

Cysts associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

As the name implies, PCOS involves the formation of multiple ("poly-") small cysts on and around your ovaries, disrupting the flow of hormones and potentially causing infertility. Women suffering from PCOS may have irregular (or nonexistent) menstrual periods, making it difficult to determine peak fertile times. In some cases, these cysts prevent the ovaries from ever releasing eggs. 

Several decades ago, PCOS was rarely diagnosed -- but today, 5 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age have been identified as having this condition. As a result, there has been much research on treating PCOS, allowing women suffering from PCOS to conceive and bear children with minimal intrusion.

To treat PCOS, your gynecologist may put you on birth control pills to help you start and regulate your menstrual cycle, as well as remove ovarian cysts. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take birth control to conceive, by regulating your menstrual cycle and diminishing the size and number of ovarian cysts formed, these pills can help you begin to prepare and release eggs again.

Cysts associated with endometriosis

Another common condition that can lead to ovarian cysts -- and treatable infertility -- is endometriosis. Endometriosis causes uterine tissue (the same lining that is discharged during your menstrual period) to spontaneously form outside the uterus, creating painful cysts that can impede your menstrual cycle or cause you frequent abdominal pain. If these symptoms sound familiar, visit your gynecologist. He or she will prescribe painkillers as a temporary relief and then (depending upon the number of cysts) may want to perform surgery to remove this excess tissue.

Many women suffering from endometriosis have found that surgical removal of this tissue is sufficient to jump-start fertility. You'll still want to get the go-ahead from your medical team before trying to conceive, to ensure that no further complications will present themselves. Contact a professional ob-gyn doctor, like Richey Mark E MD PC, to schedule an appointment and discuss treatment options.