Ovarian Cysts During Pregnancy
Symptoms, Treatment And Concerns For Pregnant Women

Ovary Cysts in pregnant women


Ovarian Cysts During Pregnancy


Introduction: Overview & Causes
Monitoring and Treatment
Fertility Issues

Related Guides:

Ovarian Cysts
Pregnancy Guide

Introduction: Size Matters

About 1 in every 1,000 women develop ovarian cysts during pregnancy. Typically cysts occur in the second trimester of pregnancy if they are going to. Although this may cause some initial concern, it is important to note that in the majority of cases symptoms do not present themselves and neither the mother or fetus are put in any danger. In fact most ovarian cysts less than 5cm in size remain uneventful throughout pregnancy and resolve themselves naturally before or soon after childbirth. Where cysts are over 12cm in size, treatment is usually deemed necessary to prevent problems. Between 5 to 10 cm, treatment remains controversial, and the risks of pregnancy complications arising from ruptured cysts versus surgery need to be weighed carefully.

How Are Ovarian Cysts Managed During Pregnancy?


Where symptoms of cysts do occur they are likely to be the same as in a non-pregnant women. That is pelvic pain, cramps, bloating and pain during sexual intercourse. Of course there is always the chance that a woman may mistake these for pregnancy symptoms, rather than another problem, particularly if she is experiencing her first pregnancy. See also Dermoid cysts and pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy

If ovarian cysts are suspected an ultrasound scan (either abdominal or transvaginal) needs to be carried out immediately. This will determine the exact location of cysts and differentiate between ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is highly dangerous and signs include sudden abnormal bleeding, lower back and pelvic area, nausea and mild cramping on one side (also a sign of corpus luteum functional ovarian cysts). Also, as cancerous growths often have a characteristic appearance, an ultrasound scan will also help the clinician assess the likelihood of cysts being cancerous. The incidence of ovarian cancer is only about 1 in 25,000 pregnancies. The most common types of cysts encountered in pregnancy are cystadenomas, dermoid and corpus luteum cysts.

Continued Monitoring & Treatment

Once any potential serious conditions are ruled out, the woman's obstetrician will continue to monitor the cysts, noting their location, size and number. If they do not grow or multiple, very likely no treatment will be necessary. With the advent of imaging techniques like high resolution ultrasound, MRI and transvaginal color Doppler, the management of ovarian cysts has become much easier. For natural therapies read our article on natural treatment for ovarian cysts. And for medical advice, see treatment for ovarian cysts.

Twisted Or Ruptured Cysts

The main problem with cysts (even benign ones) during pregnancy is the chance that they grow large and rupture or twist on themselves (known as ovarian torsion). This is more likely if a woman has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The risk of ovarian torsion rises 5 times during pregnancy and there is an incidence of 5 per 10,000 pregnancies.

A cyst bursting or twisting can cause severe sudden pain for the mother, to the extent of causing miscarriage or premature labor. This only becomes a potential problem if cysts grow to 6cm or larger. Treatment options are: basically to wait and see if cysts reduce, or surgical removal. The waiting period is generally 2 weeks, after which a course of action is decided.

In pregnancy, the second trimester is the safest time to operate, ideally between weeks 14 to 16 when implantation of pregnancy is more secure and by which time the cyst(s) may have spontaneously disappeared. Cysts or tumors can be easily removed until 28 weeks of gestation, after which the risk of premature labor is too high. However, any cyst which shows evidence of malignancy (cancer) will need immediate surgery, regardless of how far gone the pregnancy is. Ideally cysts can be dealt with via a laparoscopy, which is minimally invasive. Occasionally if cysts are too large an incision will have to be made and cysts removed via a cystectomy.

See also: What causes ovarian cysts to rupture? and do ovarian cysts usually need to be surgically removed?

Can Ovarian Cysts Affect Fertility?

The most common types of ovarian cysts (functional ovarian cysts) are not especially associated with infertility. Fertility is most likely to be affected by PCOS (see PCOS symptoms). Women with PCOS do find it more difficult to become pregnant, although with fertility treatment like IVF, it is not impossible. Uterine fibroids are also a known factor. See, can ovarian cysts cause infertility?

  Related Articles on Cysts While Pregnant

For more on issues related to pregnancy, see the following:

Ovarian tumors in pregnancy: Cancer and benign growths.
Diagrams of the female body: Organs and their function.
Reproductive system disorders: Conditions and illnesses.
Latest health statistics: Female health stats.

Return to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

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