Ovarian Cysts – Let’s talk.
They are very common! But women get frightened when they hear the word “cyst” and doctors can over-react. So here is some good information for you. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac and can occur anywhere in the body, including the ovaries.
There are different types of ovarian cysts, but functional cysts are the most common. Every month your ovaries usually release an egg which travels through the fallopian tube. The most common types of cysts occur when the egg is not released (follicular cyst) OR when the sac that the egg was formed in does not dissolve (corpus luteum cyst). Follicular cysts usually disappear within 1-3 months. Corpus Luteum cysts usually go away after a few weeks. Most doctors I know will give both types of cysts at least 6 weeks to disappear, which they usually do. These cysts are virtually never associated with cancer, so don’t be alarmed.
What about Polycystic ovaries (PCOS)?
With PCOS, the eggs mature within the follicle, but the sac does not break open to release the egg. The cycle repeats and eventually you have what looks like a string of pearls on an ultrasound. (I have an entire video on this topic and the link is below.)
Okay, let’s talk size
Later in life, usually after age 35 women sometimes develop an ovarian cyst that, instead of collapsing and disappearing, may increase in size during succeeding months. Some may become as large as the proverbial “lemon or golf ball”. If the cyst is over 4 cm your doctor may recommend surgery. A more conservative approach is to watch the cyst called “watchful waiting”. Most often, it will go away on its own.
Removing the ovary along with the cyst used to be the standard procedure, but ask your doctor to leave your ovary intact if at all possible. You want to hang on to your ovaries if you can. Your ovaries are the anatomical equivalent of a man’s testicles…they are a source of energy, libido, and hormone balance. Removing them is akin to removing testicles…known as castration. If your doctor says this will solve all of your problems, I would personally think twice.
Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst
Often, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms. However, symptoms can appear as the cyst grows. Symptoms may include:
abdominal bloating or swelling
pain in the lower back & thighs
painful bowel movements
pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
Severe symptoms of an ovarian cyst that require immediate medical attention include:
These severe symptoms can indicate a ruptured cyst or an ovarian torsion…a twisted cyst. What is a twisted cyst? These can grow to almost 4 inches and cause an ovary to twist or move from its original position. Blood supply to the ovary is cut off, and if not treated, it can cause damage to the ovarian tissue. The most common treatment for this condition is surgery and I would agree with that.
What is a ruptured ovarian cyst? It is a cyst that has broken open. No one really knows why this happens. A cyst is more likely to rupture during strenuous exercise or sexual activity. It is accompanied by sudden sharp pelvic pain. Treatment usually involves medications for pain control, but not surgery.
Doctors may prescribe oral contraceptives to stop ovulation and prevent the development of new cysts. BUT Oral contraceptives can increase risk of breast cancer—especially in young women. GOOD NEWS! Natural progesterone can also be used to treat ovarian cysts, and has no adverse risks.
How does progesterone help?
The mechanism that allows ovulation from one ovary during each cycle is the production of progesterone in that ovary. Then, the other ovary shuts down so you do not get two eggs coming from two ovaries. So, if you use sufficient progesterone prior to ovulation, Luteinizing hormone levels are inhibited and both ovaries think the other one has ovulated, so regular ovulation does not occur. Thus the ovarian cyst will not be stimulated and, in 1-2 monthly cycles, will very likely shrink and disappear without further treatment.
Use progesterone Day 10-26 of your cycle, ½ tsp twice daily. Continue for 3 cycles to temporarily suppress ovulation. When you go back to Day 12-26 at ¼ tsp per day ovulation will then usually occur in the 4th month & you are back to “normal”. So, if you have an ovarian cyst, progesterone can help! I love ProHELP. As you know I developed it with the help of Dr. John R. Lee.
It is hard to say for sure that ovarian cysts can be prevented. Many women will experience a cyst over their lifetime which will disappear within a few months. However, recurrent ovarian cysts can occur in premenopausal women and women with hormone imbalances.
If you want to be aggressive, I would keep your liver healthy with Milk Thistle. It will enable the liver readily filter out harmful xenohormones that can exacerbate cysts. Also, an estrogen detox with DIM can help.
Take care my friends! And write to me with your questions. Just give me 24-48 hours to respond.