Ovarian Cysts are fluid filled sacs found on the ovary. Many types of cysts are common and a natural part of the menstrual cycle, such as:
- Follicular Cysts: Formed during the follicular phase. These are follicular sacs that continue to grow instead of releasing an egg during ovulation.
- Corpus Luteum Cysts: May form after ovulation. This occurs when the Corpus Luteum (what’s left of the follicle after the egg is released and releases progesterone for the post ovulation phase of the cycle) reseals itself and fills with fluid.
Both of these cysts generally disappear on their own in 1-3 cycles without need of treatment.
The Ovarian cysts that can affect fertility are usually:
- Endometriomas: Caused by endometriosis. This is when the endometrial tissue grows in the ovary. These cysts can vary in size and are often filled with blood. They impact fertility by affecting a woman’s ovarian reserve, changing the ovary anatomically or through increased inflammation.
- PCOS: Small ovarian cysts are formed around the ovary. Fluid filled and carrying immature eggs that never develop, the ovaries are considered “polycystic”. (See PCOS page)
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Damp heat is the main pathogen that forms ovarian cysts in Chinese Medicine. Damp is a coagulation of fluids (yin) that become thick due to stagnation and lack of movement. From here, there is a pooling, build up of pressure followed by heat/inflammation that obstructs the flow of blood.
Weekly acupuncture focuses on dispersing phlegm, moving blood and supplementing the constitution.
- Reduce foods that contribute to phlegm like dairy, soy, wheat and sugar.
- An anti-inflammatory diet is helpful when you are prone to cysts.
- Get plenty of fiber. It stops the reabsorption of estrogen in the body.
- Eat small amounts of lean organic meats that have not been raised with hormones.
- Decrease fat consumption. They lead to increased inflammation and discomfort.
- Get plenty of foods that are high in Omega 3’s, like wild salmon, mackerel, walnuts, flax and chia seeds. They reduce inflammation and help with the hormone disruption that can occur with cysts.
Many herbs help eliminate phlegm and move stagnant blood. Research has shown a dramatic reduction and/or disappearance of ovarian cysts with Chinese herbs.
- Castor oil packs over the affected area stimulate the removal of toxins from the body via the lymphatic system.
- Reduce toxins that act as endocrine disruptors (like BPAs and phthalates). These are commonly found in plastics. Consider replacing with glass, metal, wood and ceramic.
- Limit exposure to external estrogens or chemicals that mimic estrogen:
- Parabens in personal hygiene products
- Perfluorinate in non-stick cookware
- Triclosan in antibacterial soap
- Nonylphenol in detergents
written by Andrea Iwi'ula in the Bellevue office