and consider natural hormone balancing therapies.
If you listen to women who have ovarian cysts, be ready to hear some difficult stories.
“I have polycystic ovaries,” says one sufferer. “When the cysts finally rupture, it feels like death.”
“I have never ever felt pain like this before in my life and I was sick to my stomach,” says one young woman. “I was diagnosed with a cyst on my right ovary.”
“After many tests they found that I had an ovarian cyst that bust,” says another. “It sent me to the hospital in pain and I thought I was dying.”
Standard treatments for ovarian cysts include “watchful waiting,” birth control pills, and surgery. If none of these options sounds appealing to you, there are natural therapies you can try.
What Are Ovarian Cysts?
The Mayo Clinic defines ovarian cysts as fluid-filled sacs or pockets (like blisters) within or on the surface of an ovary. They can form anywhere on the body, but when they form on the ovaries, they can cause symptoms like pain, aching, a sense of fullness, and pressure in the abdomen.
Most ovarian cysts are harmless and cause few if any symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that most premenopausal women have them at one or more times in their lives, while up to 14.8 percent of women have them after menopause.
The most common type of ovarian cyst is the “functional cyst,” which is formed during ovulation because either the egg is not released, or the sac (follicle) in which the egg forms does not dissolve. These types of cysts are usually short-lived and go away on their own.
The other main type of ovarian cyst is the pathological cyst, which grow in the ovaries. These can be either harmless or cancerous.
What Are the Symptoms?
The majority of cysts cause no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Menstrual irregularities or pain during your period
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during bowel movements or sexual intercourse
- Nausea, vomiting, or breast tenderness
- Fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
- Pressure in the rectum or bladder—the need to urinate
More serious symptoms may include pain accompanied by fever or vomiting, faintness and dizziness, rapid breathing, or sudden, severe abdominal pain. Cysts that rupture can cause severe pain and lead to internal bleeding, while those that form after menopause may be cancerous, which makes regular gynecologic examinations important.
Your doctor may diagnose ovarian cysts through a pelvic exam, pregnancy test, pelvic ultrasound, blood test, or laparoscopy. Standard treatments include the following:
- Wait: Most cysts go away on their own within a few months, so as long as you’re not having difficult symptoms, your best bet is to wait.
- Birth control pills: These can reduce the risk of more cysts developing because they stop ovulation. Birth control pills also reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Surgery: If the cyst is large and painful, your doctor may recommend removal through surgery.
If your doctor discovers the cystic mass is cancerous, he will likely recommend a hysterectomy to remove the ovaries and the uterus.
Natural Treatment Options
Though scientific studies on alternative treatments for ovarian cysts are few, many people have found natural remedies that worked. You may need a bit of trial and error to see what may be effective for you.
- Balance hormones naturally: One theory is that excess estrogen or other hormone imbalances may be to blame for the formation of ovarian cysts. To reduce estrogen, avoid soy foods, eat only organic meat and dairy, avoid BPA in plastics, and use natural personal care products and detergents. You may also consider going to a holistic doctor and talking to him or her about other ways to balance your hormones.
- Herbs: Herbs that have helped regulate the menstrual cycle and assist with hormone imbalances include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, wild yam root, and red clover.
- Detox: If you’re exposed to a lot of toxins in your daily life, you may need a detox. Try dandelion or milk thistle to support the liver in cleansing out toxins from the body, which may help lessen your symptoms. Milk thistle can also balance a women’s estrogen and progesterone levels.
- Consider a vegetarian or raw diet: Some studies have suggested a correlation between diet and ovarian cysts, particularly in women that regularly consume fat from animal sources (meat and dairy). Try cutting back on these foods and see if that helps, or consider working with a dietician.
- Help the body break them down: Natural therapies for helping the body break down the cysts include systemic enzymes, which can break down foreign tissues in the body; and castor oil packs, which you apply to the skin to promote healing.
- Supplements: Evening primrose oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, which helps regulate hormonal imbalances. Supplements like vitamin E and fish oil can also aid in healing.
- Homeopathy: Apis mellifica helps treat ovarian cysts, and bellis perennis is an anti-inflammatory that may help shrink cysts.
- Drink more water with lemon: It helps to flush the system of toxins and help return the body to a more healthy overall function.
Do you have natural remedies that work for ovarian cysts? Please share!