The ovaries are a complex of different types of tissue that harbour the female eggs. These are all produced at the foetal stage of an individual’s development. Therefore a 40-year-old woman will have 40-year-old eggs. This is partially why the older a woman gets, the more chance there is of a genetic mishap in conception.

As an egg ripens it moves to the surface and is released, leaving behind a chemical-producing cell known as the corpus luteum. This produces chemicals, including human chorionic gonadatrophin (HCG), and other hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, until the placenta is formed and takes over this role after eight weeks of pregnancy. These corpus lutea are often the site at which fluid can accumulate, creating a cyst. A cyst may form in other parts of the ovary and may be triggered by infection that travels along the Fallopian tube. A common cause is when the mature egg fails to open or be released by the tougher outer fibrous coat of the ovary and this causes a follicular cyst.

Cysts in general may grow by an excess of fluid or damp in the system and the Chinese physicians consider cysts to be most commonly associated with an excess of Yin in the diet.

Most often cysts are symptoms and, without ultrasound techniques, may go unnoticed. Cysts are being found more commonly because of routine pelvic ultrasound, but I do not know of any study that has monitored whether these come and go as a regular occurrence. However, there is a belief that a cyst may be associated with cancer and the percentage chance of this being the case is equal to the age of the patient. Put more simply, a 20-year-old with a cyst has a 20 per cent chance of it being associated with cancer, but a 50-year-old has a 50 per cent chance.

A cyst may grow to the size of a football and cause pressure symptoms on the bladder, bowel or other internal organs. Usually bloating and a visible swelling would be noticed before any serious effects are created. An infected cyst may burst and lead to peritonitis, with severe pain and associated symptoms. Menstrual cycle changes may occur, although this is unusual, and the cyst may put pressure on nerves, leading to painful intercourse or back and leg aches.

An increasing number of women are presenting with multiple ovarian cysts not associated with the menstrual cycle and ovulation. Polycystic ovary syndrome has mild or considerable imbalances in the female/male hormonal structure often associated with excess follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or testosterone. An absence of a normal cycle, hirsutism, lack of libido, are amongst the symptoms of this syndrome.

The orthodox world uses powerful oral contraceptive pills, many of which create unpleasant side effects, which may or may not be effective. Alternative therapies as mentioned below should be considered, especially the use of natural progesterone, before these are tried.

The apparent increase in the number of women with this condition suggests that there is some environmental hormonal effect, possibly from oestrogens in our food chain or even the use of the oral contraceptive pill. More study is needed, more research is not forthcoming.


Ovarian cysts are often picked up on routine gynaecological examination and will be confirmed by ultrasound. Do not be rushed into an operative procedure but consult a complementary medical practitioner.

Some ovarian cancers release a particular chemical known as a marker into the bloodstream, which should be measured if there is any suggestion or risk of an ovarian cancer. ‘ Remove sugar, alcohol, cow’s milk products and caffeine from the diet.

Fruit and watery vegetables should be reduced to a minimum and Yang foods should be increased and Kali bromatum (if there is any suggestion of the cyst being associated with a tumour) can all be used at potency 30 three times a day for three weeks. > The following supplements may reduce a cyst and should be taken as follows: vitamin E (200iu per foot of height in divided doses throughout the day with food) and gamma-linoleic acid (30mg per foot of height with breakfast). Beta-carotene (Img per foot height in divided doses) should also be taken to counteract the effect that vitamin E has of draining the vitamin A. > Abdominal massage in experienced hands may remove a cyst.

The use of natural progesterone creams with or without the concurrent use of the herb Agnus castus can be administered and has been shown to remove ovarian cysts. The treatment must be under the control of an experienced practitioner or physician.

Herbal treatments, especially Chinese, in association with acupuncture have proven successful.

Surgical intervention may be required and is usually performed through a laparoscopy. A small tube is inserted through a lcm incision just below the navel and passed into the abdominal cavity. Try to find a gynaecologist who is willing to remove the cyst rather than the ovary.