What Causes Ovarian Cysts in the First Place?

Woman holding uterus anatomical model

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  • While the exact causes of ovarian cysts are often hard to specifically pinpoint, most ovarian cysts develop because of a minor problem, which often involves the hormones in a woman’s normal menstrual cycle
  • On the other hand, if you're taking a fertility drug like Clomid or Serophene to promote ovulation, it can increase the risk for a corpus luteum cyst to develop

While the exact causes of ovarian cysts are often hard to pinpoint, most ovarian cysts develop because of a minor problem, which often involves the hormones, in a woman’s normal menstrual cycle.1 In fact, certain events in the menstrual cycle can prompt the development of functional ovarian cysts, or the most common type of ovarian cyst.2,3

Each month, the ovaries grow cyst-like structures called follicles that are responsible for producing the female hormones estrogen and progesteroneand releasing an egg cell once a woman ovulates. If a normal monthly follicle continues growing, however, it is considered a functional cyst. Follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts, two types of functional cysts, are known to usually develop during the menstrual cycle:4

Follicular cyst: In the middle of the menstrual cycle, an egg cell bursts out of the follicle and travels through the fallopian tube to look for a sperm cell to fertilize it. A cyst can develop  if something goes wrong, such as if the follicle doesn’t rupture or release the egg cell.

Corpus luteum cyst: After a follicle releases an egg cell, the ruptured follicle starts producing large amounts of estrogen and progesterone for conception. The said follicle is now called the corpus luteum. However, if the escape opening of the egg cell becomes closed off and fluid starts to build up within corpus luteum, this can lead to expansion and development of an ovarian cyst.

Certain Conditions and Medications May Play a Role in Ovarian Cyst Development

There are diseases that may be responsible for the presence of ovarian cysts. An example is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), wherein a woman can have small ovarian cysts that are actually egg follicles that did not grow to ovulation and are the products of altered hormone levels.5,6

Alternatively, endometriomas (a type of complex ovarian cyst7) form because of endometriosis, a disease that causes tissue from the uterine lining called the endometrium to grow outside of the uterus, in areas such as the ovaries, bladder, bowel, vagina or rectum.8,9

On the other hand, if you're taking a fertility drug like Clomid or Serophene to promote ovulation, this can increase the risk for a corpus luteum cyst to develop after the aforementioned event. Fortunately, this type of cyst doesn't prevent or threaten a resulting pregnancy. Plus, a fertility drug can trigger a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, wherein multiple large cysts form on the ovaries, but eventually go away after the menstrual cycle or after a pregnancy.10,11

MORE ABOUT OVARIAN CYST

Ovarian Cyst: an Introduction

What Is Ovarian Cyst?

Ruptured Ovarian Cyst

Ovarian Cyst During Pregnancy

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

Ovarian Cyst Pain

Ovarian Cyst Causes

Ovarian Cyst Types

Ovarian Cyst Treatment

Ovarian Cyst Removal

Ovarian Cyst Prevention

Ovarian Cyst Diet

Ovarian Cyst FAQ



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