For a woman getting a routine checkup from her gynecologist, the news that she has an ovarian cyst could be quite troubling. However, she shouldn't necessarily be worried.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms on or inside a woman's ovary, the two organs responsible for producing eggs and certain hormones in women [source: PubMed Health].
Most ovarian cysts aren't dangerous to a woman's health, which is good considering they most often occur between puberty and menopause -- during a woman's child-bearing years. Most cysts are benign, meaning they are not cancerous [source: HHS].
For women planning on having children, the issue of a cyst can raise plenty of questions. In this article, we'll look at how ovarian cysts affect a woman's body, in particular her fertility.
Infertility is not just a fluke; it's a serious medical condition that affects both women and men. In fact, it impacts about 7.3 million women in the U.S., roughly 12 percent of those living through their child-bearing years [source: ASRM].
Ovarian cysts can interfere with a woman's ability to ovulate, the process where ovaries release a mature egg through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus [source: American Pregnancy Association]. Irregularities with ovulation account for a quarter of infertility cases in women [source: ASRM].
But not all cysts act in this way, and we'll also look at the different types of ovarian cysts and whether they affect fertility.
There is hope for women facing infertility. A majority of cases, 85 to 90 percent, are resolved through procedures involving surgery or medicine [source: ASRM].
It should go without saying, evidence that an ovarian cyst is causing infertility can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. Always seek a doctor's opinion if you have any concerns.
Now let's look at the types of ovarian cysts that do and do not affect a woman's ability to conceive.