When I first found out, I was certain it meant having more kids would be impossible. So, naturally, I cried.
It’s still likely my ovaries are damaged from cysts that have been forming and dissipating for the last three years. Five months after first discovering them on a CT scan, I’m only just now understanding that they have been apart of my life for that long.
In the hopes that it will help another woman understand her own body, let me explain a little about what I’ve learned about cysts, including how common they are, and how I’m coping and living life with them.
What is a Cyst?
There are many types of cysts. The type that I have are follicular cysts. Basically, it means that the follicle that surrounds the egg doesn’t shrink when my ovary releases an egg and, instead, it keeps filling with fluid until it bursts. This is the most common type of ovarian cyst.
What are the Symptoms?
Here is where hindsight 20/20 comes in. I don’t have pain with my cysts. If so, it felt no different than normal menstrual period cramps. However, I have a reference point in my life that I can think back to and mark as life before cysts and life with them.
Once menstruation returned after breastfeeding for 6 months, I experienced heavier bleeding than before. At that time of my life, and having just welcomed a third child, I was under a lot of stress. In fact, when I first starting tackling my low energy levels with a nutritionist, I initially thought we were only dealing with a fatigued adrenal gland from all the stress. However, after discovering the cysts, my menstrual symptoms now make complete sense.
A few weeks back, my mom told me it wasn’t normal to spot before my period or anytime that isn’t supposed to be when I was on my period. That made me think. When I had my follow-up sonogram in July to check on the two initial cysts that were discovered on my right ovary in March, I learned that those had gone away. However, there was a new, five centimeter one on my left. When I told a close friend, she said that it sounded like I have them every month and she explained to me that she knows when hers have burst because she has a specific type of discharge: a chocolate or dark colored blood.
After further research, I learned that this dark discharge before my period along with a heavier menstrual flow is the main sign that a cyst has burst and is flushing out. In addition, not feeling like eating, suddenly feeling nauseous, or even vomiting are all signs of a burst cyst. Fainting, dizziness, and feeling weak are very bad signs and you should seek medical attention if those symptoms coincide with extreme cramps, and or bleeding. Those symptoms could be a sign of complication.
What Causes Cysts?
No one knows exactly what causes cysts, but my nutritionist explained this to me about my situation: when your estrogen levels are out of balance (in my case, due to stress), it can cause the ovaries to produce cysts. This makes sense to me. The human body relies so much on your hormones to be in a perfect balance for things to work. Who’s to argue that if my levels are off that somehow it disrupts a signal that should have been sent to the follicle to shrink?
What Can be Done to Prevent Cysts?
Aside from living as stress free a life as possible and doing all you can to eat right and exercise, there isn’t much a woman can do to prevent them. Pregnancy changes your hormones. Getting your period every month results in fluctuating hormones. I’ve already pointed out that stress fluctuates your hormones. If your hormones aren’t in check, you will most likely experience them at some point in your life. They may even happen without you noticing.
How to Take Care of Yourself After a Cyst Bursts
The fluid that spills into your abdomen after a cyst bursts causes your body to work harder than usual. Your body is amazing and your abdominal organs will absorb the fluid, resulting in extra trips to the bathroom to pee, as well as a bloated abdomen. You might feel thirstier, too. These are all normal symptoms to experience after a cyst has burst.
For about a week after it does, it’s recommended that you rest as much as possible. You’ll probably feel more tired during this time, too. I know I do. Do not over exert yourself. I’d go so far as to say do not exercise during the time after one bursts. Wear very loose-fitting pants to help with the bloating discomfort. Do not carry or lift anything. If possible, take time off from work.
Most importantly: listen to your body. If you feel extremely ill, see a doctor right away. Don’t tough it out. This could be a sign that there has been a complication that needs medical attention.
Destress Your Life
Earlier, I pointed out that stress is a contributing cause to hormone fluctuations, which can lead to cysts. Once you’ve discovered that they are a part of your life, do the best you can to carve time out of your days to relax and care for yourself. Meditation and prayer are great ways to reduce mind stress. Journaling is also a great way to vent worries and frustrations. Slow down. Enjoy nature. Look up at the stars. Watch the sunset. Listen to the crickets chirp. Visit the ocean more frequently. Do something that will help you to take your mind off daily stresses.
Additionally, look at your schedule and uncommit yourself from priorities that don’t give your life meaning. You don’t need to take on more than you can handle. Don’t apologize. And if you need help with simplifying your schedule, I highly recommend reading the book The Effortless Everyday by Katie Lee.
The Natural Cyst Treatment Plan I’ve Chosen
Your doctor will tell you, should they discover a cyst, that your best option is to take birth control pills. The point being: contraception will stop you from ovulating. If you don’t ovulate, you don’t run the risk of developing cysts.
I had a doomsday obgyn tell me that my options were the pills or surgery. He didn’t give me the option to wait and see. I got a second opinion from a midwife and she was calm about it. She said that monitoring it is the best option and felt operating and other more invasive measures were not necessary unless the cysts started to become extremely painful and, thus, interfere with my daily life.
And that made sense to me.
How Did I Get Here?
I’m a healthy 31-year-old woman who experienced extreme stress almost four years ago and that spiraled into adrenal fatigue, then mild depression. All my research points to higher than normal levels of estrogen as my reason for developing cysts. And it all started because I stressed the hell out of my body, resulting in confusion about detoxing. My body stopped flushing out things like it should have (wouldn’t detox) and instead held on to everything.
I was so bent out of shape emotionally – emotionally traumatized – that my body took the beating that I played out in my mind. It literally stored all that negative energy in my body. I now see that at the time when everything started, I was full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and confusion. I was insecure and felt under appreciated and unworthy. I did this to myself. I kept playing things out that I didn’t like about my life in my head and dwelling on things. The sad thing is I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time. Nether did anyone else.
But that’s just my story.
“Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s body tells a different story.” – Lauren Sainz
My Journey to Better Health
Once I realized that I needed help, I sought it. I put my 2-year-old daughter in daycare so I could care for myself. I went to a nutritionist in August 2016 who helped by issuing supplements to support my adrenals and I slowly dug out of the depression hole I had dug myself into. I began practicing natural forms of healing, such as massage therapy, yoga, meditation and reiki. After more research on energy and how our body stores emotions in our body (watch the E-Motion movie), I specifically targeted my meditations and yoga to work on balancing my sacral chakra. Since making these minor changes to my lifestyle, I’ve dramatically felt a shift in how my body feels as well as my emotional wellbeing. Without a doubt, I feel better, and am more confident.
I’m reassured that I can live my life normally with the type of cysts I have. Medically, I don’t need intervention. Before long, I believe my efforts to rebalance my hormones naturally will result in having normal cycles without cysts. I might not have that fourth child I want, but that’s okay. I don’t have control over that. What I can control is how I care for myself.
I may have cysts, but I am not my cyst. I am a strong woman, just like you. I will overcome my body’s temporary breakdown. I’m already halfway there.
I strongly encourage any woman who experiences these types of cysts to read information from experts like Dr. Northrup or Dr. Axe. Their advice, as well as that of my nutritionist and midwife, have helped me feel comfortable with my treatment plan. If you don’t yet feel comfortable with your own plan, find a different doctor and get a second opinion like I did. Do what feels most comfortable to you and your lifestyle. Be sure to ask lots of questions. The more you know, the better able you will be to make informed decisions about actions moving forward.
Because it’s your body and you have to live with it. No one else. Just you.
What’s your cyst story? I’d love to hear from you.
by: Lauren Sainz, blogger at From the Desk of Lauren