What are ovarian cysts?
If you experience chronic pelvic pains, on one or both sides, you may be suffering from ovarian cysts. Different types of cyst conditions exist and it is important to know what you’re dealing with. Knowing the cause of the cysts will enable you to avoid surgery in most cases. Surgery creates the potential for scar tissue and increases the risks of future infertility. However, in some cases it is necessary.
Recurrent ovarian cysts begin with normal growth in the ovaries that become problematic, tending to reappear regularly. In some cases, the ovary starts to release the egg from the follicle (the envelope of the egg), but the egg is not actually released and forms a cyst. A careful evaluation, which includes a review of menstrual charts, pelvic evaluation, and possibly a pelvic ultrasound, will help determine the type and treatment of this cyst.
In most cases, an appropriate progesterone treatment will eliminate the pain within hours and normally the cyst will naturally dissolve on day 5 of the menstrual period. However, a follow-up is necessary because in some cases the cysts will persist and surgery may be required.
Charting your cycle with the help of a Creighton Fertilicare Method Counselor is the key to determining the type of cysts you suffer from. Moreover, it will enable a trained physician to track the evolution of the cysts and detect if additional treatment is necessary.
In some cases, cysts are associated with risks of cancer. It is therefore imperative to understand the type and root cause of these cysts.
What is PCOS?
The second kind of cyst formation is diagnosed as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which affects 10-20% of women of reproductive age. It can manifest itself with symptoms of severe cramping and pain around one’s period, as well as very long cycles between periods.
PCOS is a reproductive health disorder that causes cysts to grow on the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalances. Many women suffer from PCOS without knowing it. Estimates suggest more than 50% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed. The cause of PCOS goes back to an excess of exposure before a woman’s birth to a hormone called the anti-Müllerian hormone.
The many symptoms of PCOS can include severe cramps, irregular cycles, cystic acne, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression, as well as:
- chronic inflammation
- easy weight gain
- insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia
- cardiovascular issues
- Type 2 Diabetes
- poor body image or eating disorders
- hair loss or growth
- high levels of androgens
- male-pattern hair growth
- thyroid disorders
If you have some of these symptoms, ask your doctor to order tests and consider learning to chart your cycle using a fertility awareness method (FAM) to identify irregularities. When consulting with your doctor, it can help speed up your diagnosis if you share your fertility charts, a full family history, and do not downplay your symptoms.
Charting will help you identify abnormal signs, and if you see a doctor who understands fertility awareness charting, they can use this information to diagnose PCOS. Further, making some lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can help minimize PCOS symptoms.
Can PCOS be reversed?
As of now, there is no cure, but it can be minimized and monitored with charting and changes to diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTechnology) has been successful in the treatment of PCOS (more on this below).
Does PCOS cause weight gain?
Yes, weight gain is one of the many possible symptoms associated with PCOS. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Women with PCOS do not produce normal insulin levels. “Instead, their bodies over-produce insulin in an attempt to maintain a normal blood sugar level, and this frequently leads to more androgen productions and weight gain.” In turn, this can lead to a frustrating cycle where, as a woman gains weight, her PCOS symptoms can become more severe.
Does PCOS cause depression?
Yes. Studies have found that depression and anxiety are more prevalent in women with PCOS. The reasons for this are complex, as noted in a study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. Causing undesirable physical side effects to potential infertility, PCOS “can be deeply stigmatizing to women. In a qualitative study on the subjective experience of PCOS, women described as feeling robbed of their self-concept, essence of being feminine, and attractive.”
Can PCOS affect pregnancy?
Yes, a cycle irregularity like PCOS can affect your ability to get pregnant because it can affect how frequently you ovulate, which is necessary to get pregnant.
Will PCOS make me infertile?
It can. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. The hormonal imbalances interfere with ovulation, which can lead to irregular or completely skipped periods, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant. However, there are some treatments that can help restore ovulation and improve one’s chances of pregnancy, with the help of a NaProTechnology doctor.
What do I do if I have PCOS?
While there currently isn’t a cure for PCOS, there are ways to treat and manage it. Some women with PCOS “have found success with a unique diet, moderate exercise, and use of a progesterone cream,” Lindsay Schlegel writes in an article for Natural Womanhood, “How to Solve Period Issues without the Pill.” A bioidentical form of progesterone can “help regulate the hormones during the woman’s cycle, and thus establish more regular ovulation, with virtually no side effects, because the product is a replica of what the body produces on its own.”
If you are currently on hormonal birth control (a common bandaid fix for PCOS), be aware that hormonal contraceptives can exacerbate the effects of PCOS. Further, being on contraceptives will make it impossible to accurately chart your cycle and get to the bottom of what type of cysts you are experiencing.
NaProTechnology is also advancing the treatment of PCOS. PCOS can be treated with the surgical wedge resection procedure, which reduces the size of the ovaries. Although it currently isn’t a cure, the surgery can provide relief, especially when coupled with a balance to hormones and changes to health and diet, although you should speak to a doctor before making any major diet changes or taking new supplements.
Does birth control help with PCOS?
If you suffer from some of the symptoms above, it is important to take action. While the use of contraceptives may work in controlling some of the symptoms of these cysts, contraceptives are not a long-term solution and may even mask other, more serious problems.
What doctors can help treat PCOS?
Find medical professionals trained in fertility awareness methods to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. Many doctors and medical professionals are available by telehealth and some provide financial assistance.
For more information on PCOS and cysts, see the articles below.