An ovarian cyst is a thinned-walled sac filled with fluid that forms on or beside an ovary. Every month the ovaries develop a follicle which normally releases an egg during ovulation. Cysts grow when a follicle grows but neither releases an egg nor degenerates. Instead, it continues to grow in the ovary, secreting fluid that develops into a cyst.
Ovarian cysts are not uncommon. In many cases they appear and disappear, and are often discovered by accident during a routine pelvic examination. Ovarian cysts range in size from as small as a peato larger than an orange.
Ovarian cysts affect women of all ages. They occur most often, however, during a woman's childbearing years. Most ovarian cysts are functional in nature and harmless as they are a normal part of the menstrual cycle
Some ovarian cysts cause problems, such as bleeding and pain. Surgery may be required to remove cysts larger than 5 centimeters in diameter. Multiple cysts on one ovary, accompanied by menstrual irregularities and excessive facial hair, are known as polycystic ovaries.
Persistent or reoccurring problems with cysts are caused by hormonal imbalances often related to diet, including too much meat, saturated fats and products made from white flouer, pastas and rice which lack fiber. Pelvic congestion from poor circulation and a sluggish liver may also be contributing factors.
Many ovarian cysts don't cause symptoms. Others can cause:
- Pressure, fullness, heaviness, swelling, or pain in the abdomen
- Pain during period
- Constant pain or burning inside and above the hip bone, or on either side of the lower abdomen
- Sudden twisting movements are painful and the area is usually very sensitive to touch.
- Dull ache in the lower back and thighs
- Pain during sex
- Weight gain
- Abnormal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Change in frequency or ease of urination (such as inability to fully empty the baldder)
- Difficulty with bowel movements due to pressure on the adjacent pelvic anatomy
- Fatique, headaches, nausea or vomiting
- Weight gain
If the cause of the cysts is polysystic ovarian syndrome, symptoms may include increased facial hair or body hair, acne, obesity and infertility. If the cause is endometriosis, then periods may be heavy, and intercourse painful.
If you have these symptoms, get immediate medical help:
- Pain with fever and vomiting
- Sudden, severe abdominal pain
- Faintness, dizziness, or weakness
- Rapid breathing
Treatment for cysts depends on the size of the cyst and symptoms. Pain caused by ovarian cysts may be treated with:
- Pain relievers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or narcotic pain medicine to help reduce pelvic pain.
- A warm bath, or heating pad, or hot water bottle applied to the lower abdomen near the ovaries can relax tense muscles and relieve cramping, lessen discomfort, and stimulate circulation and healing in the ovaries.
- Hormones in oral contraceptive pills may regulate the menstrual cycle, preventing the formation of follicles that can turn into cysts, and possibly shrink an existing cyst.
Also, limiting strenuous activity may reduce the risk of cyst rupture or torsion.
Cysts that persist beyond two or three menstrual cycles, or occur in post-menopausal women, may indicate more serious disease and should be investigated more thoroughly.
For more serious cases where cysts are large and persisting, doctors may suggest surgery. This may involve removing the cyst, or one or both ovaries.Removing both ovaries causes immediate menopause.
Eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Drink carrot, spinach, beet or cucumber juice to boost the immune system. Since the liver is involved in any abnormal metabolism of hormones, eat liver cleansing foods such as artichokes, lemons, black cherries, pineapple, parsnips, dandelion greens, watercress, turmeric, celery and burdock root. Other foods good for the liver are kelp, dulse, milk thistle, Swiss chard, turnip greens, wheat germ, seeds and nuts.
Use at least two tablespoons of unrefined, cold-pressed flax seed oil daily on salads, or in any dishes that do not require heating to high temperatures. Flax seed oil contains essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation.
Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, and processed foods as they interfere with hormone function. Most importantly, lower the intake of saturated fats by eliminating red meats from the diet. Keep high-fat dairy products, especially cheeses, to a minimum. Cultured dairy products such as yogurt are fine as long as they are low in fat and free of antibiotics and other chemicals. Use fish and seafood as your source of animal protein.
Natural progesterone cream should be applied directly on the skin from the 14th to the 28th day of the menstrual cycle to help regulate hormone levels.
Avoid chilling the extremities and lower abdomen which may cause internal congestion.
Minimise the use of high heels since they inhibit pelvic circulation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM describes all types of ovarian cysts as enlarged ovaries. It is seen as a consequence of water accumulating in the abdominal cavity where it transforms into phlegm, usually as a result of kidney yang deficiency. There may often be coexisting blood stagnation or liver qi stagnation.
The treatment principle, depending on clinical signs and symptoms, is to tonify kidney yang, transform phlegm, benefit the movement of water, dredge or move liver qi, invigorate blood and break blood stasis. This approach is performed regardless of the type of cyst, or whether it involves polycystic ovaries (PCOS).
Chinese herbal medicine is very effective for treating functional ovarian cysts with accumulations of fluid or blood. In cases of PCOS, treatment is more complicated and takes longer, but is often treatable.
The following herbal formula is often used to treat Ovarian Cysrts:
Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan - Cinnamon Twig & Poria Pill
This classic Vitalize Blood formula treats Gynecological Masses such as Uterin Cysts, Fibroids and Tumors. It is a gentle way to break up masses. It's main functions are to move Blood and break up Blood stagnation thus dispersing immobile masses expecially in the abdominal area.
It can be taken before and during menstrual flow but can also be taken alternately with a Qi strengthening formula for a few weeks after the end of the period to help restore Qi.
Stress is a major factor in this condition as it leads to Liver Qi congestion and affects the pituitary gland and hormonal flow leading to an excess of estrogen. The resulting obstruction of Qi and Blood leads over time to the growth of noduels or masses.
With a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine, it may take a minimum of 3 to 6 months to help resolve or reduce fibroids.
Lu 7 & Kid 6, Ren 4, St 28, Zi Gong = Open Ren Mai Meridian to nourish Yin
Sp 4 & P 6, Kid 13, Kid 14, Liv 3 = Open Chong Mai Meridian to reduce Blood stasis
Si 3 & BL 62, Ren 4 = Open Du Mai Meridian to move Blood and strengthen Kidney Yang Qi
Sp 6, Sp 9, Ren 5, Ren 9, St 28, Kid 14, BL 22, St 40 = Resolve damp phlegm
Kid 3, Kid 13, Ren 4, St 36, BL 20, BL 23 = Strengthen Kidneys
Sp 6, Sp 10, P 6, BL 17, Liv 3, Kid 14 = Resolves Blood Stasis
Liv 2, Liv 3, Liv 8 = Release stagnant Liver Qi
The choice of points depends in part on the presenting condition and rhythm of the menstrual cycle.
Tao Clinic Professionnel Chinese Herbal Formula Database
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Siegfried Gursche, MH