So what is a woman to do if ovarian cysts are preventing fertility? There's one more important topic to cover. As mentioned, the ovaries produce follicles that serve as little chambers in which a woman's eggs mature.
Every woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce. During each menstrual cycle, she sheds the mature egg that isn't fertilized. By menopause, she will have shed all of her eggs [source: Sherbahn]. However, the number of eggs a woman has remaining pre-menopause is called her ovarian reserve.
But what does this have to do with ovarian cysts? For women who have a potential fertility problem linked to ovarian cysts, this could be welcome news.
Many women who have been diagnosed with infertility have found success with medical procedures, a major one being in vitro fertilization. With IVF, a woman's egg is removed from her ovaries and placed with the male partner's sperm. If the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, it is then placed back in the woman's uterus to continue the conception process [source: ASRM].
For those who attempt IVF, it is not a guaranteed success. But a doctor can help assess a woman's chance at conceiving through IVF by performing an antral follicle count.
Antral follicles are those that the woman's body has yet to use, also called resting follicles. By counting these follicles through the use of an ultrasound, a doctor can better guess a woman's potential ovarian reserve, or her number of remaining eggs [source: Sherbahn].
So there is hope for women battling infertility. And for those diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, remember that most types do not directly affect your chance at having a child. If diagnosed, talk with your health care professional about your treatment options.
- American Pregnancy Association. "Understanding Ovulation." March 2011. (July 1, 2012) http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/understandingovulation.html
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "Quick Facts About Infertility." 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://www.asrm.org/detail.aspx?id=2322
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility." 2012. (June 30, 2012) http://www.reproductivefacts.org/awards/index.aspx?id=3012
- Gallenberg, Mary M. "Is there a link between ovarian cysts and fertility?" Mayo Clinic. May 21, 2010. (July 1, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ovarian-cysts-and-infertility/AN01848/
- Johns Hopkins Medicine Fertility Center. "Female infertility." 2008. (June 30, 2012) http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/fertility/conditions/female_infertility.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Infertility." Jan. 10, 2012. (June 30, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infertility/DS00310
- PubMed Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Ovarian Cysts." Feb. 26, 2012. (June 29, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002473/
- Sherbahn, Richard. "Antral Follicle Counts, Resting Follicles and Ovarian Reserve." Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. 2012. (July 3, 2012) http://www.advancedfertility.com/antralfollicles.htm
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health. "Endometriosis fact sheet." Nov. 16, 2009. (July 2, 2012) http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.cfm
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health. "Ovarian cysts fact sheet." Sept. 23, 2008. (June 29, 2012) http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/ovarian-cysts.cfm#moreInfo
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health. "Polycystic ovary syndrome fact sheet." March 17, 2010. (June 29, 2012) http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.cfm