Your OB/GYN just walked in and informed you that you have a corpus luteum cyst. To be told by your gynecologist that you have an ovarian cyst is enough to scare any woman.

corpus luteum cystOvarian cysts are fluid filled sacs located within or on the outside of the ovaries.  They can differ in size and the majority are not cancerous.  Ovarian cysts are seen predominantly in women throughout their reproductive years, but may also be present in post-menopausal women.  Cysts are classified in accordance with the way they are formed as well as the contents and nature of the cyst.   Functional cysts are a type of ovarian cyst which is formed in the normal course and function of a woman’s body, the menstrual cycle, thus the term functional.  Follicular cysts are the most common of the functional cysts and can result when ovulation does not occur. Corpus luteum cysts are another type of functional cyst but these cysts occur after an egg is released from the follicle.

How Is A Corpus Luteum Cyst Formed?

Normally when an egg is released from the follicle, the empty follicle changes into the yellow body known as the corpus luteum, which starts to yield vast amounts of estrogen and testosterone in preparation for pregnancy.  If pregnancy doesn’t develop, the corpus luteum should break down and disappear. However, for reasons unknown, in some instances it does not disintegrate and disappear but instead, grows larger and begins to fill with fluid or blood becoming what is commonly referred to as a corpus luteum cyst. Officially, when the yellow body grows larger than three centimeters it is referred to as a cyst.

The typical corpus luteum cyst is round and full of liquid. It has a thin wall and can vary in size ranging from 2 to 6 centimeters.  A corpus luteum cyst may also be found in approximately fifteen percent of pregnant women but the cyst will generally resolve itself towards the second trimester.

Symptoms Of Corpus Luteum Cyst

Generally corpus luteum cysts do not display any symptoms but when they do, the symptoms tend to be minimal.  It is possible however that the cyst can twist, rupture and bleed into the abdominal cavity triggering abdominal or pelvic pain.  This is not generally the case and unless serious symptoms like unusual bleeding and/or severe pain present, there is little cause for concern. In the unlikely event that the cyst does grow too large or ruptures, surgery may be required.

Corpus Luteum Cyst Causes

The exact cause of a corpus luteum cyst is not known but using fertility drugs like clomiphene citrate (Serophene) and contraceptive pills such as the progesterone only pill (POP) increases the risk of developing a corpus luteum cyst.  Smoking also increases the risk of developing it.

Diagnosing A Corpus Luteum Cyst

Corpus luteum cysts can be diagnosed during a pelvic exam, but if small enough can go undetected using only a physical examination.   Blood testing may also be used but the most reliable method is to employ transvaginal and abdominal ultrasounds.

Corpus Luteum Cyst Prevention

Women on the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) do not ovulate so using combination pills are one way of preventing corpus luteum cysts.  There are also some excellent alternative ovarian cyst remedies/cures which offer natural, healthy ways to prevent the occurrence of ovarian cysts.

Overall, corpus luteum cysts do not impede everyday living, nonetheless physicians often advise against intercourse until the cyst ruptures due to the fact sex can precipitate its rupture. In the vast majority of cases corpus luteum cysts resolve on their own without treatment within two to three menstrual cycles.  When the cyst is present with pregnancy, it does not endanger the pregnancy.