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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Chu I Ta and Dr Jessica Gunawan on November 2, 2022

Tips For Supporting Your Health If You Have An Ovarian Cyst

Did you know what 20% of women will develop an ovarian cyst at least once in their lifetime? Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments here.

Ovarian cyst min scaled

It can be scary to hear from your doctor that you have an ovarian cyst. However, the condition is more common than you think. In fact, 20% of women will develop at least one pelvic mass during their lifetime.

Additionally, most ovarian cysts in women of reproductive age are benign and do not need to be removed. Despite this, they can lead to other health complications and symptoms that may require treatment, such as intensified period pain.

Read on to learn more about the causes and symptoms of an ovarian cyst and how to use Western medicine and natural remedies to manage your health.

What Is An Ovarian Cyst?

A woman hunched over, holding her stomach in pain
Abdominal pain may be a sign of an ovarian cyst.

Ovarian cysts are masses that grow on or inside the ovaries. There are as many as 30 different types of ovarian cysts. Most of them are functional cysts related to normal ovarian functions and not malignant in nature.

However, at times, they can also be a sign of diseases, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cysts seen in women of childbearing age are usually benign and do not require surgical treatment. However, they can lead to complications such as cyst ruptures, pelvic pain, blood loss, and ovarian torsion that require prompt treatment. 

Ovarian Cyst Causes, According To TCM

The exact cause of ovarian cysts is usually not known but certain risk factors may predispose you to them. These include undergoing infertility treatments, pregnancy, low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroid), cigarette smoking, severe pelvic infection, endometriosis, and tubal ligation surgery. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes ovarian cysts as Zheng Jia or abdominal mass. According to Real Health Medical Chief Physician Chu I Ta, the description of ovarian cysts has been recorded in the oldest written work of medicine, the Yellow Emperor of Canon Medicine thousands of years ago.

“Zheng Jia refers to a lump in the lower abdomen that is accompanied by a feeling of pain, swelling, fullness, and in extreme cases, bleeding.”

Physician Chu. 

The main organs involved are the Liver, Kidneys, and Spleen. Pathological factors responsible for ovarian cysts include: 

Blood Stasis due to Qi Stagnation

Internal emotional injury causes a depression of Liver-qi, resulting in obstruction of the channels, and impeded flow in collaterals and blood circulation. The Stagnation of qi and blood leads to the formation of lumps. 

Accumulation of Phlegm-Dampness

Irregular eating and drinking result in depressed Spleen-yang (active energy). The Spleen is unable to function effectively resulting in phlegm and Dampness. The imbalance in these factors leads to the obstruction of qi and blood. 

Stagnation of Damp-Heat

During menstruation and after delivery, the uterine vessels are empty and deficient. As a result, there is insufficient healthy qi. Pathogenic Damp-Heat can invade in these conditions. It mingles with residual blood, stagnating in the uterus, and can result in an abdominal mass.

Most functional ovarian cysts are asymptomatic and may not be detected. Symptoms include one-sided pain or pressure in the lower abdomen. The pain may be sharp or dull and may be continuous or appear intermittently.

If a cyst ruptures or undergoes torsion, a patient may suddenly experience severe pain with nausea and vomiting. Menstrual irregularities and abnormal vaginal bleeding could also be symptoms of ovarian cysts. 

How To Manage An Ovarian Cyst

If a doctor has detected you have an ovarian mass, they will first ask you to undergo tests to rule out pregnancy and ovarian malignancy.

  • CA-125 is a biomarker that is raised in most cases of ovarian cancer. It is more accurate in diagnosing cancer when used along with ultrasonography of the pelvis, particularly in menopausal women with ovarian cysts.

Management of ovarian cysts depends on the type and size of the cyst, the patient’s age, menopausal status, and if there is any suspicion of malignancy. 

Conservative treatment 

A young woman meeting with her female gynecologist for a doctor appointment to discuss women's health
Regular check-ups with your gynecologist should be included as part of your treatment plan.

Single ovarian cysts of less than 10cm in diameter are usually benign, regardless of the age of the patient.

Hence, if you are asymptomatic, you’ll usually only be monitored with regular ultrasound examinations. Most functional ovarian cysts disappear spontaneously after several menstrual cycles.

Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to prevent new ovarian cysts from occurring. Consult with them for a proper prescription.

Surgery 

Large ovarian cysts, cysts that don’t go away, or those that cause more severe symptoms might need surgery. The surgery may entail removing only the cyst or an entire ovary, depending on each individual case. 

Herbal remedies 

TCM remedies can be used for functional cysts which are asymptomatic. Based on each case presentation, a TCM physician will be able to do a syndrome differentiation and formulate the right treatment.

Some of the remedies you can use include: 

Cang Fu Dao Tan Wan

Used in cases of accumulation of Phlegm-Dampness, the formula transforms phlegm and eliminates Dampness, promotes blood flow, and disperses conglomerations.

Da Huang Mu Dan Tang

Used in cases of Stagnation of Damp-Heat, this formula clears Heat and eliminates Dampness, resolves Stasis, and disperses concretions.

Bak Foong Pills

In TCM, Bak Foong pills are used to help support female reproductive health and treat gynecological disorders. For example, research shows that Bak Foong pills combined with metformin can help treat PCOS.

They are also effective at reducing menstrual and dysmenorrhea pain by stimulating uterine relaxation as well as supporting fertility and womb health.

Acupuncture

Just like herbal remedies, acupuncture is also recommended only in functional cysts that are not likely to rupture or undergo torsion. A TCM physician is able to differentiate the syndromes and prescribe the right acupoints for needling during a session.

The acupuncture points Physician Chu recommends for his patients include: 

For Blood Stasis due to Qi Stagnation: Guan Yuan (CV4), Qi Hai (CV6), Qi Chong (ST30), San Yin Jiao (SP6), He Gu (LI4), Xue Hai (SP10), Ci Liao (BL32), Ge Shu (BL17), Shi Men (CV5), and Tai Chong (LR3).

For Phlegm-Dampness, use: Guan Yuan (CV4), Qi Hai (CV5), Feng Long (ST40), Zu San Li (ST36), Qu Chi (LI11), and Di Ji (SP8).

For Stagnation of Damp-Heat: Yin Bai (SP1), Tai Chong (LR3), Shui Dao (ST28), Zhi Gou (SJ6), and Wai Guan (SJ5).

Talk To Your Doctor About Ovarian Cyst Treatments

Functional ovarian cysts are more common than you think. Thankfully, there are several treatment options in Western as well as traditional medicine that can help to resolve them.

Ask your TCM physician for an in-depth syndrome differentiation so that you can be guided regarding the right treatment.

How has an ovarian cyst affected your life? Share your story with us in the comments below.

References

  1. StatPearls Publishing. Ovarian cyst. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. What’s the difference? Carcinoma and sarcoma
  2. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. Management of ovarian cysts   
  3. Clinical and experimental obstetrics & gynecologyCurrent diagnosis and management of ovarian cysts. 2014 
  4. Onocology Letters. 2015. Bak Foong pills combined with metformin in the treatment of a polycystic ovarian syndrome rat model.
  5. Cell Biology International. 2009. Traditional Chinese medicine Bak Foong Pills alters uterine quiescence – Possible role in alleviation of dysmenorrhoeal symptoms.

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