Corpus Luteum Cyst
Corpus Luteum Cyst
A corpus luteum cyst is one of several types of cysts on ovaries that
develop in women. It is termed a "functional ovarian cyst" because it results from a normal body function, in this
case ovulation. During ovulation the follicle (egg containing sac) releases its egg and becomes what's called a
corpus luteum. The job of a healthy corpus luteum is to release hormones in preparation for pregnancy, and then to
disappear if no pregnancy occurs. If instead the corpus luteum seals up prematurely it forms a cyst that can fill
with fluid or blood. It is not known exactly what causes the corpus luteum to become abnormal, but an imbalance of
hormones is a contributing factor.
Most corpus luteum cysts are round shaped and grow to about the size of a ping pong ball or about 1 inch across.
In some rare cases they have grown even larger, up to 4 inches or more. When less than one inch in diameter it
typically is not considered a cyst. Generally these cysts occur in women on the same side, often the right
side. Other names for corpus luteum cyst include corpus luteal cyst, luteal cyst, yellow body, and corpora
lutea (plural form).
Millions of women will develop this type of ovarian cyst at some point during their lifetime. Most who
do are in their childbearing years (ages 12-50 typically). Some women pre-puberty or post-menopausal will also
develop one. Only a small number of corpus luteum cysts become cancerous (malignant). The risk of cancer is higher
for post-menopausal women with ovarian cysts.
The risk of developing a corpus luteul cyst increases for women on some kinds of fertility drugs. Drugs that
induce ovulation and birth control pills that have just progesterone and not estrogen raise a
woman's risk. Because combination birth control pills (containing both hormones) prevent ovulation, women who
take them typically do not develop this kind of cyst.
Corpus Luteum Cyst During Pregnancy
Most women are able to get pregnant with a corpus luteum cyst. Usually these cysts will not endanger nor
interfere with the pregnancy. However, miscarriage is a possibility and does occur in a small percentage of women
with cysts. A corpus luteum cyst in early pregnancy may remain until a later trimester before it finally
disappears. If the cyst is large, or is causing considerable pain, or bleeds excessively it may need to be
removed prior to pregnancy.
Corpus Luteum Cyst Symptoms
Symptoms of a corpus luteum cyst are very similar to those of ovarian cyst symptoms.
Ectopic pregnancy also has similar symptoms and should be considered as a possible cause. Many corpus luteum cysts
do not cause symptoms. Not all women will have the same symptoms too. You can expect to experience a range from
mild to severe.
Some cysts may however put pressure on the ovary and cause a range of symptoms such as pain, bloating, and the
need to urinate frequently. Corpus luteum cyst pain can also occur if a cyst causes the ovary to twist or rotate
about itself, thus blocking blood flow. Often the pain from a twisted ovary is the first sign a woman experiences
that tells her something is wrong.
If a cyst becomes disturbed or expands too much it may rupture. A ruptured corpus luteum cyst can cause
complications and intense pain from the fluids that spill out of the cyst and onto the ovaries or other
organs. A hemorrhagic corpus luteum cyst results from excessive bleeding after rupture. A ruptured ovarian cyst of any kind can cause complications such as infection,
adhesions, and can lead to a serious medical emergency. Take action right away if you have symptoms such as intense
pain, excessive bleeding, fever, or vomiting.
Other physical activities may cause pain for a woman with cysts. Sexual intercourse, exercise or other strenuous
physical activity that involves bending or reaching can be painful. Many women report pelvic pain that is felt on
only one side. Back pain and pain that radiates to the legs is reported often too.
Menstrual changes such as missed or late periods for more than one cycle are common symptoms. Bleeding after
menopause happens in many women with this condition. Spotty or irregular bleeding, heavier than normal flow, and
cramping are other typical symptoms of a corpus luteum cyst.
Corpus Luteum Cyst Treatment
Surgery to remove the cyst is sometimes recommended. Surgery, even when minor can result in scarring or
adhesions that can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant in the future if damage occurs to the ovaries. That's
why many women are advised to consider other less invasive options first.