An ovarian cyst is an enclosed sac of fluid, blood or collection of cells that develops inside or on the surface of an ovary. These different types of cysts range in size from as small as a pea to grapefruit-sized cysts in excess of four inches. An ovarian cyst is usually harmless and benign. Women of any age may develop an ovarian cyst, although women in their childbearing years have the highest incidence.
Corpus luteum cysts form after an egg is released from a sac called a follicle. After the egg is released, the follicle is known as a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum releases progesterone and estrogen to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum normally breaks down and disappears on its own.
Sometimes, however, corpora lutea (plural form of "corpus luteum") may seal and fill with fluid or blood, forming corpus luteum cysts. Women who are on birth control pills usually won't form corpus luteum cysts, as birth control pills prevent ovulation. Certain fertility drugs that induce ovulation increase the chance of having these types of cysts.
Corpus luteum cysts are typically round and fluid-filled, ranging in size from two to six centimeters or more in diameter.
If a woman gets pregnant with corpus luteum cysts, the pregnancy is unlikely to suffer any ill effects. This type of ovarian cyst tends to diminish over time; if a cyst is present at the beginning of pregnancy, it may not disappear until the second trimester.
Corpus luteum cysts don't usually cause symptoms. In some cases, however, corpus luteum cysts may fill with blood or clear liquid, expand, and attach to the ovary. This type of ovarian cyst may still exhibit no symptoms, but in some cases, may grow or bleed. These corpus luteum cysts can sometimes cause pelvic or abdominal pain, and may require surgical correction.
Corpus luteum cysts may also cause the ovary to twist around the ovarian ligament. This condition is called ovarian torsion, and can cut off the blood flow to the ovary. Pain and nausea are the most common symptoms of ovarian torsion.
Corpus luteum cysts also have the potential to rupture, causing sudden, sharp pain and some internal bleeding.
Women with corpus luteum cysts shouldn't be concerned, unless extreme pain or bleeding occurs. If you suspect or experience serious symptoms, seek emergency care.
With most corpus luteum cysts, everyday activities can still be maintained and the woman's life will not be affected. Some medical professionals may recommend avoiding sex until these types of cysts have been resolved, since the physical nature of intercourse may cause the ovarian cyst to rupture.
In the case of malignant ovarian cysts, cancer may occur. However, this rarely results with corpus luteum cysts. If you have any questions or concerns about any type of ovarian cysts, make sure to discuss them with a medical professional.
eMedicineHealth Staff. (n.d.). Ovarian cysts. Retrieved February 12, 2010, from the eMedicineHealth Web site: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/ovarian_cysts/article_em.htm.
Greenfield, M. (2004). Corpus luteum cyst of pregnancy. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from the Dr. Spock Web site: http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,5335,00.html.
Stoppler, M. (n.d.). Ovarian cysts. Retrieved February 12, 2010, from the MedicineNet Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/ovarian_cysts/article.htm.
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