If you are a woman, chances are you have had at least one ovarian cyst in your life. Perhaps you weren’t even aware of it, or perhaps it caused you a bit (or a lot!) of discomfort.
I’ve had my share of ovarian cysts in the past, and because I didn’t know what I know now, they caused me an exponential amount of unnecessary grief.
I first started suffering from cysts when I was a teenager because of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is why the doctors put me on the birth control pill at the age of 15. It did prevent me from getting cysts for the time I was on it (but at the price of weight gain and depression), but because the pill doesn’t get to the root of the problem, my PCOS was at a raging full force when I got off the pill at 21.
When I was 29 I experienced the worst ovarian cyst of my life. While on honeymoon in Thailand, a 5 x 5cm cyst grew on my left ovary and twisted around it, causing hemorrhaging. I had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency laparotomy to remove the cyst. Luckily my ovary was saved. In this very rare case, surgery was necessary. But as you will learn later in this article, surgery is rarely the best option, and is best to be avoided.
When I was 30, I had yet another cyst. This one on my one-year wedding anniversary while in Vietnam! Seriously, can a girl catch a break?! Because I was so petrified that this one would twist like the previous one, I had my husband take me to the hospital immediately, even though I was not in as much pain as the one from the previous year. Trust me, you will know if your cyst is in torsion, because it is extremely painful.
The ultrasound indeed showed another 5×5 cm cyst on my left ovary. I was gutted. The doctors insisted on surgery, and because I didn’t know what I know now, I agreed. This time a less invasive procedure called a laparoscopy was performed.
A year later at 31 I had yet another cyst. This time I was in the U.S. so I decided to go to a gynecologist. The ultrasound showed another 5×5 cm cyst on my left ovary. He suggested we watch and wait, and in the meantime I should take the birth control pill to shrink it.
I respectfully declined the birth control pill, and he was not very pleased.
I turned down the pill with confidence because I had done quite a bit of research since my previous ovarian cyst ( in the past year I literally made it my mission to learn EVERYTHING I could about them). So I now had the knowledge to make better decisions, and I rejected the birth control pill therapy, and instead took the holistic route. I knew the signs to look out for if the cyst did go into torsion, and if this did happen I knew I would need to get an ultrasound immediately in case I did need surgical intervention.
However, surgery was obsolete, as with my holistic treatment the cyst dissolved with my period two weeks after it formed.
No surgery required. No birth control pills.
Today, I’m ovarian cyst free, and even if I do get another one, I wouldn’t be worried at all because I now have the knowledge of how to get rid of it on my own. And I would like for you to be empowered with this knowledge as well.
If you’re suffering from ovarian cysts, chances are you are so confused about all of the conflicting advice out there, due to the fact there is no consensus among physicians on how to treat them. It’s overwhelming I know. This article should hopefully shed some light on the situation for you.
Enlarged fluid-filled sacs on the ovary, typically categorized by when they occur in relation to ovulation. (1)
For the sake of time, we will only discuss the most common type of ovarian cyst called a Functional Ovarian Cyst. There are three types of Functional Ovarian Cysts which we will cover today.
These cysts are called “functional” because they develop as a result of normal functioning of the menstrual cycle. Their cause is always hormonal. They can occur once in your life, or recur frequently.
3 Types of Functional Ovarian Cysts:
1. Follicular Cyst
This is the most common type of ovarian cyst. With this cyst, the follicle around the egg continues to grow as you approach ovulation, but instead of rupturing to release the egg as it should, it instead grows into a cyst that encases the egg inside, preventing ovulation.
Cause: There are many hormonal imbalances that can cause this. PCOS being one of them, as well as hypothyroidism.
Treatment: These will usually always resolve on their own by day five of your next period, although in the mean time they can cause quite a bit of discomfort such as pelvic pain and nausea. The only case in which surgical intervention needs to take place is if the cyst twists around the ovary. If you are in a lot of discomfort and do not want to wait a few weeks for your period to dissolve the cyst, you can get a progesterone injection to disrupt estrogen dominance and instigate an earlier period. Surgery can be performed, but it should always be considered a last resort, since it can compromise fertility by causing scarring.
2. Luteinized Unruptured Follicle (LUF)
This cyst occurs when the maturing egg prepares to be released at ovulation, and the follicle that encases the egg goes through the sequence of normal ovulation, however the egg remains stuck in the follicle, so ovulation does not actually occur, even though it seems as if it did because a corpus luteum that produces progesterone is still formed.
Cause: A hormonal imbalance is at play and this type of cyst is believed to occur in 15% of women dealing with infertility.
Treatment: Just like the Follicular Cyst, this cyst will most likely go away on its own by day five of bleeding. A progesterone injection can be used if pain is overbearing. The injection will instigate a period within three-five days.
3. Corpus Luteum Cyst
In this type of cyst, the egg is released and normal ovulation takes place. However, the opening where the egg was released is sealed off and excess fluid fills it forming a cyst.
Cause: Fertility drugs raise the risk of this type of cyst.
Treatment: These cysts are the most innocuous in nature and almost always go away on their own within a few weeks to months. You can get pregnant with this type of cyst, and if you do, the cyst will usually resolve within the first three months of pregnancy.
Holistic Methods to Encourage Ovarian Cysts to Dissolve
If you have found yourself with one of these cysts, you might find yourself in a bit of discomfort. It is common to get bloated in the abdomen, and to feel tenderness, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, and discomfort in doing daily activities. From my personally experience I found that the pain came in waves. Sometimes lasting a few hours at a time, or maybe even minutes. If I stayed away from exercising I felt much better, so on the days I had the cyst I stuck to light yoga.
I also find some holistic treatments to help ease the pain, and speed up the dissolution of the cyst.
1. Castor Oil Pack:
Place a castor oil pack on your lower abdomen for 30-minutes to an hour each day. The castor oil is believed to help dissolve the cyst.
2. Herbal Tea Tonic:
Drink Yogi Moon Cycle tea 2-3 times a day. Add 1 teaspoon black strap molasses, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and a pinch of black pepper. The potassium in the black strap molasses will help dissolve the cyst, as well as the apple cider vinegar. The turmeric will lower inflammation which will help ease the pain. This is more of an old wise woman remedy, and is not backed by medical research or the FDA. But many women have found this tonic to work, myself being one of them.
3. Epsom Salt Baths with Clary Sage:
Epsom salt baths will help soothe and relax, and it will help ease pelvic pain. Added bonus is the Epsom salt draws out toxins which will help with future hormonal balance. Make sure to get Epsom salts with no added fragrances or chemicals. Place five drops of clary sage essential oil into the bath, as clary sage is a well known oil for promoting hormonal balance.
Your ovaries need zinc to function optimally, yet sadly, many of us are deficient in this crucial mineral. I recommend supplementing with zinc as well as eating plenty of zinc rich foods such as egg yolks, pumpkin seeds, and oysters.
A Note on Recovery:
While you are in recovery stay away from strenuous activity and exercise. Focus on self care and slowing down. Treat your self with love and kindness. Use this time to focus on the patterns in your life that aren’t serving you so you can get to the root of the hormonal imbalance causing these cysts in the first place. I encourage you to team up with a holistic practitioner who will help you investigate and find out what is causing these cysts, and who can help you formulate a lifestyle and diet change that will promote hormonal balance.
If you have any more questions, please write them in the comments section below, and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
Health Coach Jenna
- Weschler, Toni. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: the Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health. William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins, 2015.