What are Corpus Luteum Cysts and How are They Treated?

Corpus luteum cysts are one of the two most common types of ovarian cysts.  They happen frequently in pregnant women, as well as many women of childbearing age.  Most corpus luteum cysts are harmless, cause no pain, and will dissolve on their own.  In some circumstances, they can cause complications.  However, most can be treated through simple dietary changes.

Cause of Corpus Luteum Cysts

Corpus Luteum cysts are believed to be formed with small changes occur within the ovary or the menstrual cycle.  In a normal menstrual cycle, the egg is brought to maturity within a small sac called a follicle.  About fourteen days after the start of the last period, the body will signal to the ovary to release the egg.  The follicle will burst, releasing the egg to travel down to the uterus.  The follicle then dissolves.

In the case of corpus luteum cysts, the follicle does not dissolve.  Instead, it reseals itself and fills up with fluid, creating the cyst.

Diagnosis of Corpus Luteum Cysts

For most women, corpus lutuem cysts cause no symptoms.  They are generally only found during a routine pelvic exam, when the physician will feel a lump on the ovary.  They may also be found during an ultrasound performed in pregnancy.  If the doctor suspects a cyst, he will order an ultrasound to confirm that it is filled with fluid.  If it is, it is then classified as a functional cyst.  If it is solid, surgery will generally be performed in order to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of Corpus Luteum Cysts

Most of these types of ovarian cyst produce no symptoms.  However, if the cyst grows large, it can cause pain in the lower abdomen.  This pain can either be sharp from time to time, especially after you use the bathroom or have intercourse.  It can also be a steady low ache.  For some women, the pain is felt in the lower back.

If you get a sudden sharp pain in the lower abdomen, particularly during or after intercourse, make sure to see the doctor right away.  There’s a chance that the cyst has burst.  When this happens, there is always the possibility of internal bleeding.  Your doctor will want to rule that out.

Treatment of Corpus Luteum Cysts

For most functional cysts, doctors will take a wait and see approach.  They will have you return to the office in two to three months to do another ultrasound in order to make sure the cyst has dissolved.

If it has not, the most common form of treatment is birth control pills.  However, you should know that many women experience a worsening of symptoms by going on these.  You can also try to treat the cyst naturally through dietary changes, avoiding artificial hormones, exercise, and reducing stress.