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Ovarian Cyst-- any way to avoid surgery?

4609 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  mothernurture
I have known for a few months that something is not right with my menstrual cycle, but spent last night in the ER and came home with a diagnosis of ovarian cyst. It's pretty large-- bigger than the ovary. I am waiting to hear from doctors and midwives but know that this is very possibly a surgical problem. I have a nursing toddler and feel pretty freaked out about that idea. Is there anything else I can or should do?
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Not sure what other therapies are appropriate for you, but definitely read Dr. Christiane Northrup's book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. She discusses ovarian cysts and many options for therapies from the least invasive to the surgical options.

sending you peaceful healing vibes...

I had a similar situation when my first baby was around was VERY painful and actually about the size of a lemon. Mine was filled with water and went away with hormone therapy. basically my doc gave me a different blend of bc pills and it went down on its own. If it is blood filled as opposed to water , i am told thats when surgery is usually needed...from what I understand. I would definitely do some research before going back to the doctor.

good luck...more healing vibes your way
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that the problem is if you wait too long, they'll be removing the whole ovary, rather than just a cyst!

I (unknowingly) had a large cyst on one of my ovaries. It only became obvious when I woke up in extreme extreme extreme pain one night (apparently it had become so large, the ovary had collapsed and become tangled in the fallopian tube). Because i was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, it took them a little bit of time to figure this out (and figure out a way to fix it wihout hurting the baby) In the space of two days from the ovary becoming tangled, it died and had to be removed.

FYI - i cannot emphasize how painful this was...recovering from the surgery was a piece of cake in comparison to how I felt when the ovary started to die. It is considered one of the most painful things a woman can go through - my OB says that after that, childbirth will be a piece of cake!
I had a cyst the size of an orange removed from my right ovary, but not while preg or nursing. the surg is not too invasive, laparoscopically, and it took about a week and a half to recover. if you do have the surgery, you'll need help taking care of your child, though ... I couldn't even get out of bed without help for the first few days, although I would imagine a c section would be worse, comparatively speaking.

i'm sure you'd like to avoid the surgery altogether (wouldn't we all!), but if it is necessary, I'm just letting you know that it's not too too bad. And I felt A LOT better afterward. has some message boards where people can post their situations and get advice from health professionals, as well as other women, and even if you can't get decent advice, it's a nice place to go for support.

Best of luck to you!
Thanks, all. I am very scared of losing the ovary and am definitely willing to have surgery if I need it. But if it's not clear that I need it, then I want to know what else to do, KWIM? I have had two laps before and know they're not terrible, but the idea of nursing my wiggly toddler while dealing with incision soreness is pretty awful.

We just were able to get the records transferred today. My midwife is going to review them with the doctor, and then we'll go from there. Meanwhile, it hurts, so I'm feeling worn down and nervous. Keep your fingers crossed!
Update: my PCP just called and said the report shows a "multiseptated complex cyst" and that that is something you watch and follow for a while. But when I google that term, everything I see talks about surgery. Anybody have anymore input?
My sister had one of these recently. They watched it and it went away. She, too, was worried about surgery and didn't want to have surgery unless it was clear that she needed it. Her doctor checked her every month or so and the cyst receded on its own after about six months' time. She never felt like she was risking her health; it was just really hard for her to walk around knowing she had this THING on her ovary that didn't belong there, that MIGHT result in surgery. She was very relieved when shrinkage began showing on the ultrasound.

I also had a fluid-filled ovarian cyst once--and I didn't know I had it until it burst. It's very painful when they burst because the fluid irritates all the other stuff in your abdomen. I was at the doctor's office when it burst, and the doctor was very thorough, doing an ultrasound to be certain there was no "torsion" issue--where the cyst twists around the ovary or tube and surgery is warranted. They spent a lot of time looking for signs that there was blood in the fluid (a sign of injury to ovary, they said), and when everything looked fine, they sent me home with some vicodin for the pain (which I never needed because the pain was never worse than it had been when the cyst first burst). The fluid dissipated and I was fine within a couple of days.

I also recommend Christiane Northrup's book. Good luck!
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I had one in college 18 years ago, which was corrected by going on the pill. I mention it every time I have an OB visit, or when having an U/S -- and it has NEVER reared its head again. I can FEEL when I ovulate on that side more than the other side now. I'm guessing maybe that is due to some scar tissue.
I have a friend (also on MDC) who had a dermoid cyst while pregnant who had Reiki and accupuncture which helped. I'll see if I can get her to post here.
Rachel, You said you've had two laps before - do you have endo? If it is an endometrial cyst the only effective treatment is removal/excision. No matter what they say, there is no way of knowing if it's endo without tissue sampling. There are new ways to do this, however, that are less invasive than even a lap surgery. If it's endo, any tissue left behind will continue to cause you problems, so it's best to have it completely removed.

Try searching for "sclerotherapy" and then find the most highly skilled surgeon you can get to do the procedure. If you can't find someone who is up to date on the latest techniques, go with whoever is most practiced in traditional laparoscopic surgery. A less-skilled doc can cause more problems than he solves. Of course, if you do have endo, sclerotherapy will only treat the cyst(s), you will still need a lap to remove the other endo implants.

I have had success with my pain by changing my diet. I know people who have reported good results with massage therapy and accupuncture as well.
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Stacy, thank you. I'll look that up right now. I do have a history of something endo-like, although the source of the tissue was never conclusively identified. When I had my second lap four years ago (the first was for the endo, the second for appendicitis), they looked around and there was no endo at all. I was on the Pill then, though, and haven't been since 2001, so maybe it is growing back. I want to TTC in the winter, and the idea of having this thing hang around for months and months doesn't sound good.

It hurts. The current plan is to watch it for six weeks, but honestly, I can't stand this level of pain for that long.
I had one very similar. Was just larger than the ovary itself. I felt a little crampy, but it burst and I bled like crazy and I was pg at the time and thought I lost my baby

I was glad to know it was just a cyst. It started coming back and my Midwife and OB ( who used to be a MW) had me on passion flower tincture ( herbal remedy tincture from the store) and no problems after that at all.
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RachelGS, three years ago I had a dermoid ovarian cyst (considered to be a type of abnormal cyst not the regular cyclical kind that come and go with your menstrual cycle) diagnosed incidentally to a kidney stone. Since the cyst was asymptomatic, I chose to play the waiting game as I was not interested in having surgery on my reproductive organs when I was about to TTC for the second time. I found a reiki specialist, based in Australia, on the internet who talked about having her dermoid ovarian cyst healed through reiki and other alternative treatments. I also did accupuncture through the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine. The cyst (as well as a small uterine fibroid) remained stable in location and size and i was able to conceive our 2nd child a few months after my accupuncture treatments ended.

Just last week, I had a repeat transvaginal ultrasound that showed both the dermoid cyst and the fibroid were relatively unchanged... I will probably do some more accupuncture in the coming months and may also follow up with Reiki again, in an effort to maintain stability (and remain asymptomatic) in these two issues.

The fibroid will diminish at menopause since it needs estrogen in order to grow. I'm not sure about the likely end result with the dermoid cyst as most medical docs believe surgery is required to handle these types of abnormal cysts. As long as I'm not experiencing symptoms that can be attributed to the dermoid, I plan to postpone the surgical option indefinitely. But I have heard that laparascopic surgery (faster recovery, etc.) would likely be the best choice if the dermoid grows and causes problems later.

I also recommend Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom as well as any of the Louise Hay books like You Can Heal Your Body (or your Life), etc.... Hay outlined many physiological symptoms and what they might be related to in the psychogical realm as well as positive mental affirmations to manage these symptoms. Here is some of what she says:

Ovaries: represent points of creation. Creativity.
Affirmation: I am balanced in my creative flow.

Cysts: represent running the old painful movie. Nursing hurts. A false growth.
Affirmation: The movies of my mind are beautiful because I choose to make them so. I love me.

My situation was easier as the cyst was not causing me pain. Your situation is different as you are in intense pain. Similarly though, I had to weigh the issue of medicating myself for the pain of the kidney stone (the original diagnosis that precipitated the ovarian cyst diagnosis) when I was nursing a 14 month old child. There aren't any easy answers but if you are waiting it out for 6 wks before considering the surgical option, it would be great to use that time to research alternative options.... like accupuncture, etc.....
I hope you find some relief from the pain. Trust your instincts and preserving your fertility and look for alternative approaches.
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