Is there a link between ovarian cysts and fertility?

Answers from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.

Some ovarian cysts can be associated with decreased fertility. However, it depends on the type of ovarian cyst you have.

Ovarian cysts that can affect your fertility include:

  • Endometriomas. Endometriomas (en-doe-me-tree-OH-muhs) are cysts caused by endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue normally lining your uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. These ovarian cysts may be associated with fertility problems.
  • Ovarian cysts resulting from polycystic ovary syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition marked by many small cysts in your ovaries, irregular periods and high levels of certain hormones. PCOS contributes to problems with fertility in some women.

Unless they become very large, these types of ovarian cysts don't affect fertility:

  • Functional cysts. Functional cysts — such as follicular cysts or corpus luteum cysts — are the most common type of ovarian cyst. Functional cysts form during a normal menstrual cycle and don't cause or contribute to infertility. In fact, functional cysts actually indicate that the necessary functions leading to fertility are taking place.
  • Cystadenomas. Cystadenomas (sis-tad-uh-NO-muhs) are growths in the ovary that arise from the surface of the ovaries. Although they need treatment, they don't affect fertility.
  • Dermoid cysts. These cysts contain tissue — such as skin, hair or even teeth — instead of fluid. Dermoid cysts aren't associated with infertility.

If you've been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and are concerned about becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor.

Nov. 07, 2012 See more Expert Answers