Ovarian cysts are the most common health problem experienced by women of child-bearing age.
Nearly all pre-menopausal women and up to 15% of postmenopausal women will experience at least one ovarian cyst in their lifetime.
In our last post, we introduced you to the most common type of ovarian cysts, known as a simple or functional cyst …appropriately named because they develop as a normal function of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
We also learned that both types of functional ovarian cysts, a follicular and corpus luteum cyst, can develop during the ovulation process …and that which of these two cysts will actually form is determined by the events that occur during the release of the egg from the ovary.
In today’s post, we are going to continue our discussion of simple ovarian cysts by looking at the corpus luteum cyst and how it develops.
corpus luteum cyst
This type of functional cyst normally occurs during the second phase of the menstrual cycle.
When an egg is released, the empty follicle sac it was once stored in responds by becoming a new, temporary secretory gland called the corpus luteum.
A corpus luteum cyst actually develops from the corpus luteum.
In some cases, instead of being absorbed back into the ovary, the corpus luteum becomes sealed off and filled with fluid.
This causes the corpus luteum to enlarge and form a cyst.
Both types of functional cysts, the follicular and the corpus luteum, are going to occur in most women at some point during their lifetime. Luckily, these simple ovarian cysts are usually not associated with pain …unless they grow too large or rupture.
Functional Ovarian Cysts are Usually Harmless but Can Become Serious
While a corpus luteum cyst can disappear on its own after a few weeks, some can grow as large as 3-4-inches in diameter. There is also the possibility of the cyst bleeding into itself or twisting your ovary, resulting in pelvic or abdominal pain.
The corpus luteum cyst has as a much larger, richer blood supply than does a follicular cyst and actually can be seen to have blood vessels by the naked eye if you were to look at one. This increases the danger of internal bleeding if the corpus luteum cyst should rupture or burst.
Also, if the cyst has caused the ovary to twist around the ovarian ligament, a condition known as ovarian torsion could develop. This condition can cut off the blood supply to the ovary, causing pain and nausea.
This is an important item to remember as the symptoms of a corpus luteum ovarian cyst are often not noticeable …but, for the majority of problem cysts, the most common symptom experienced will be pain in the abdomen or lower back.
Ovarian pain is a definite indication that something has gone wrong with the corpus luteum cyst.
It may have ruptured or grown to such an extremely large size that it is causing pressure on other tissues and organs.
As always, early detection is the key in treating most ovarian cysts. With some types of ovarian cysts, especially those that are prone to rupturing, complications can develop very quickly so it is particularly important to receive an early diagnosis.
In our next post, we will take a look at who is at risk for developing ovarian cysts.