October 2022

What are ovarian cysts and can they cause infertility?

Many women may hear the term ovarian cysts and think that this issue is quite scary and can lead to infertility. For most women having an ovarian cyst does not equal infertility and most ovarian cysts are harmless. The term sounds scary, but usually, these cysts will not be harmful to you or your chances of fertility.


What are ovarian cysts and what symptoms are associated with ovarian cysts?

When you hear the term ovarian cysts you may think of painful symptoms that can go along with ovarian cysts. Most ovarian cysts are actually harmless. Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid located in an ovary or on the surface of an ovary. Women have two ovaries on each side of the uterus. Ovaries are where eggs develop and are eventually released monthly. Many women have ovarian cysts and often they will go unnoticed until you are examined by a doctor. Most cysts actually will go away without needing treatment. 


Large ovarian cysts can cause some noticeable symptoms including:

  • Pelvic pain, this can feel like a dull ache or sharp pain below your belly button on your left or right side.
  • Pressure or feeling fullness in your abdomen.
  • Some noticeable bloating.


You should see a doctor if the abdomen pain is sudden or severe. The pain is associated with fever or vomiting. A feeling of shock is also a cause for concern if you have rapid breathing or lightheadedness. [1]


ovarian cysts


What are the different types of ovarian cysts?

There are a few different types of ovarian cysts. The most common type are functional cysts. These cysts occur from ovulation and these cysts show your ovaries are functioning correctly. These types of cysts shrink and disappear on their own. Some cysts do not form because of your menstrual cycle and these types of cysts need extra monitoring by a doctor. These types of cysts include:

  • Cystadenomas, which form on the surface of your ovary. These cysts are filled with fluid that is either watery or mucus-like.
  • Dermoid cysts are cells that make up different types of tissue in the body. The tissue in these cells can be skin, hair, teeth, or brain tissue. These can grow large without removal.
  • Endometriomas are a type of cyst that is filled with endometrial tissue.
  • Ovarian cancer, these are tumors that are solid masses of cancer cells. These are dangerous for your health and your doctor will most likely schedule you for the removal of these cysts and other cancer treatments.


Not all of these cysts will cause health problems or fertility problems, but your doctor will closely monitor any cysts that are not normal functional cysts. [2]


Can ovarian cysts cause infertility?

Usually, ovarian cysts do not impact fertility or cause infertility. Sometimes cysts are caused by endometriosis or PCOS and these conditions can cause fertility issues. Endometriosis is quite common and affects ten percent of women in the United States. This condition causes the lining of your uterus to grow outside of the uterus. 30 to 40 percent of women with endometriosis struggle with infertility. Treatment such as IVF and freezing your eggs can help you conceive if you have endometriosis or PCOS. If you have ovarian cysts you should go to all of your recommended screenings at your gynecologist and ask for additional testing if you are worried about your fertility. Most women with ovarian cysts can conceive easily and have few issues during their pregnancy.



1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cysts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353405

2 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9133-ovarian-cysts

3 https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/fertility-blog/2016/august/ovarian-cysts