Corpus Luteum Cyst

Last Updated: January 15, 2020

Definition - What does Corpus Luteum Cyst mean?

A corpus luteum cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops inside of an ovary after ovulation. If the opening of the follicle where the egg was released during ovulation seals off, fluid can accumulate and create a corpus luteum cyst.

Most corpus luteum cysts do not have any symptoms and many women do not even know they exist unless they grow large, causing pain. Corpus luteum cysts are an indication that the functions required for fertility are taking place and they do not contribute to infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Corpus Luteum Cyst

For women of childbearing age, each month results in the production of an egg to facilitate possible conception. Eggs are developed inside follicles, sac-like growths inside the ovary. The follicle remains active even after the egg has been released and is called the corpus luteum.

If fluid collects inside the follicle, it can result in the growth of a functional cyst. These cysts are considered “functional” because they are cyst-like structures that occur as a result of the body’s biological processes.

There are two types of functional ovarian cysts:

  • Corpus luteum cysts
  • Follicular cysts

What causes corpus luteum cysts?

After a follicle has ruptured and the egg has been released, the egg travels from the ovary into the fallopian tube in search of sperm. The follicle is now called the corpus luteum and it releases conception-aiding hormones, estrogen, and progesterone.

After the corpus luteum finishes secreting these hormones it disappears back into the ovarian surface. However, a corpus luteum cyst occurs when the ruptured follicle seals improperly, trapping fluid inside. The swelling and fluid build-up to cause the follicle to expand.

How are they diagnosed?

A corpus luteum cyst can be diagnosed through imaging tests, including an ultrasound or a pelvic MRI.

They may also be discovered inadvertently during a routine pelvic exam or another unrelated testing. Most corpus luteum cysts will resolve within a period of 2-3 menstrual cycles.

For women with exceptionally large cysts or postmenopausal women, additional testing and possible surgery may be required.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment for corpus luteum cysts depends on a woman’s symptoms and health history. Many cysts will heal independently and require no medical intervention. However, cysts that become large may bleed (hemorrhage) or rupture.

In these cases, the cysts may cause pain or discomfort and could require treatment. Additionally, physicians may advise preventative treatment if cysts reappear. This may include birth control pills to regulate the hormone release that typically fuels cyst growth.

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