Dermoid cysts sometimes grow in the ovaries. And given that ovaries play a central role when it comes to conception, the question that every woman with the cysts asks is: can dermoid ovarian cysts affect their ability to get pregnant? And, do they affect pregnancy?
Normal dermoid ovarian cysts and infertility
Dermoid cysts are usually small. They also grow slowly. This makes for cystic growths whose presence is rarely noticed by the female reproductive system. It is for this reason that these cysts on ovaries tend to be asymptomatic – rarely cause ovarian cyst symptoms – and are often discovered incidentally.
Given the fact that they are usually too small to bother the functioning of a woman’s reproductive system, there is really no reason to assume that they can cause infertility or make it harder for a woman to get pregnant.
According to Mayo Clinic, in an article by Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D., ” … dermoid cysts aren’t associated with infertility.” The only exception provided being cases where the cysts on ovaries become very large.
In a study reported in the American Academy of Family Physicians, 32% of the women in the study managed to get pregnant in spite of having dermoid cysts in their ovaries. A significant number of women with dermoid cysts in their ovaries were also able to give birth in this study.
Therefore, normal dermoid cysts that don’t have accelerated growth, that don’t develop complications, and which are not cancerous – and therefore don’t require surgery – are not detrimental so far as getting pregnant is concerned.
Large dermoid cysts and getting pregnant
There are times when dermoid ovarian cysts grow faster than usual. They can therefore become too large to go unnoticed. This will give rise to some of the symptoms generally associated with ovarian cysts. A woman with large dermoid cysts is therefore likely to experience most of the symptoms of ovarian cysts like heaviness, abdominal/pelvic pain, breast tenderness and an increase in the frequency of the need to urinate.
But that is not all that a large dermoid cyst can do to the human body. When the cysts becomes too large, they affect the functioning of the reproductive system. They can form physical barriers that make it impossible for fertilization to take place or they can affect the functioning of the ovaries and sometimes even the entire female reproductive system.
Take the case of a 57 year old woman whose case was reported in the Journal of Medical Case Reports. She had a large ovarian cyst, but she didn’t know. And even when the cystic growth grew to such an extent that it caused her to have difficulty breathing and even increased her weight, she didn’t suspect a thing. It was only after paying a visit to the doctor that she realized the source of her discomfort and the damage that the large cyst had done. According to LiveScience, the ovarian cyst “… was so big that it had shoved her uterus to the side, squished her abdominal contents and extended all the way up to her diaphragm.”
Her’s was an extreme case. And the cyst on her ovary wasn’t a dermoid cyst. And her’s is also an extreme and extra-rare case of large ovarian cysts. But it gives you a sense of the damage that ovarian cysts, including dermoid cysts, can do to the human body when they grow out of control.
Dermoid ovarian torsion and infertility
Ovarian torsion, which is a fancy word for the twisting of the ovaries, is the most common complication in women with dermoid cysts. So, can it affect the ability of a woman to conceive?
What ovarian torsion does is that it restricts blood flow to the ovaries. This means that at the onset of this complication, oxygen and nutrient supply to ovarian tissues is usually limited. Over time, this can lead to damaged ovarian tissues. It can also cause a woman’s ovary to completely die.
Ovaries produce the eggs that are needed for conception. They are also responsible for the production of pregnancy hormones. Therefore, if you have a damaged ovary in your reproductive system, the chances of getting pregnant will significantly reduce. This complication will cause difficulty in getting pregnant.
Dermoid ovarian cyst rupture and infertility
There is a 1-4% risk of a dermoid ovarian cyst rupturing. This is a serious condition that usually demands immediate medical attention because in addition to the severe abdominal and pelvic pain that results from the cyst burst, there is also an increased risk of infection. This usually occurs because of the fluid that is released into the female reproductive system after the rupture.
This infection can lead to many complications. Some of them can cause getting pregnant problems. For example, if the infection causes scarring, it may end up blocking the fallopian tubes. This may make it impossible for conception to occur. Scarring may also lead to pregnancy complications. An ectopic pregnancy is one of these.
Dermoid cysts, ovarian cancer and infertility
If traces of cancerous cells are detected in a dermoid ovarian cyst, removal of the cyst on ovary may be necessary. And to avoid the spread of the cancer, doctors may also decide to remove the ovaries.
If the surgical removal of a woman’s ovary is necessary to avoid the spread of cancer cells, then this will reduce her chances of getting pregnant. If both ovaries are removed, then this may lead to permanent infertility.
This does not however mean that every case of dermoid ovarian cyst malignancy needs to end with the infertility. It is possible to remove dermoid cysts that show signs of cancer without damaging the ovaries.
Surgical removal of dermoid ovarian cysts and infertility
This may be necessary in cases where the ovarian teratoma is growing out of control. It may also be necessary in order to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the female reproductive system. Some of the rare complications of dermoid ovarian cysts may also make this necessary.
Whichever the case, surgical removal of the cystic growths puts your fertility at risk.
Doubled risk of infertility because of dermoid cysts
Dermoid ovarian cysts have a tendency of growing in both ovaries – at least in 10-15% of the cases. This puts both ovaries at risk when any of the above complications arise.
Answer to: Can a dermoid cyst cause infertility?
The answer is: yes it can.
But this is not always the case.
It only does so when it grows to such an extent that it starts interfering with the functioning of the female reproductive system. Or when complications arise.
Most ovarian teratomas (dermoid cysts) are small in size. The risks of complications arising because of the cysts are slim. Therefore, if you have dermoid ovarian cysts, the odds are in your favor.There is a good chance that you can still get pregnant.