If you’ve been diagnosed with chocolate cysts on one or both ovaries, you may be feeling concerned or alarmed. A chocolate cyst is technically an endometrioma, which is a type of ovarian cyst that is filled with old blood (hence the name chocolate). A chocolate cyst forms when endometrial tissue abnormally grows in the ovaries, as it can with endometriosis.
While they sound scary, chocolate cysts are actually common. They occur in around 20-40% of women with endometriosis, and they don’t always affect fertility. Further, there are natural ways to help your body normalize if you have endometriosis with chocolate cysts.
Chocolate Cysts’ Impact on Fertility
Endometriosis affects an astounding 5-10% of all women, and not all of them have fertility problems. A woman with chocolate cysts may not experience any issues or pain. She may only discover she has them through a vaginal ultrasound or X-ray.
A chocolate cyst begins as a small lesion on the ovaries. It may remain very small (just a few millimeters in size) and is not a cause for concern. However, some cysts grow large (over 10 cm) or become very painful with the menstrual cycle. Larger cysts tend to be the most problematic for fertility, causing blockages or decreased egg quality.
Chocolate Cysts: Medical Treatment Benefits and Drawbacks
Chocolate cysts can be removed through laparoscopic surgery. However, today some doctors suggest leaving small, painless cysts alone. While removal is intended to be minimally invasive, there is a risk of creating scar tissue, worsening the cyst or damaging healthy ovarian tissue.
Cysts that are large or painful should be medically monitored. If a chocolate cyst ruptures, its contents can enter the pelvic cavity. This can cause the ovaries to bind to the fallopian tubes, creating fertility blockages and pain. In severe cases, chocolate cysts can affect ovarian reserve, damage the ovaries, or even require oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries).
Chocolate Cyst Symptoms To Watch For: Work with a OB/GYN for a definitive diagnosis.
- Painful menstruation
- Pain during intercourse (Dyspareunia)
- Pelvic pain/abdominal swelling
- Fertility problems
- Diminished ovarian reserve, low AMH levels
Natural Therapies To Rebalance The Body With Chocolate Cysts
Endometriosis is triggered by the immune and reproductive systems being out of balance. Natural therapies are a good choice for cysts that are small and do not threaten the health of the ovary.
1. Follow a Nutrient-Dense Fertility Diet. Eliminate triggers like gluten, hormone-injected meat and dairy products that increase pain and worsen hormone imbalance. Choose organic foods whenever possible to avoid exposure to chemicals that affect immune health.
2. Consider a Fertility Cleanse. A Fertility Cleanse helps cleanse excess hormones and toxins in the system that ignite endometriosis. A cleanse takes about 30 days and can help give your body a fresh start. Some women experience increased energy or easier cycles after cleansing.
3. Try an antimicrobial herbal formula. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina), Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) and more can help reduce inflammation and support normal reproductive function. A formula like Women’s Best Friend can be used for up to 4 months in a natural fertility program.
4. Balance excess estrogen with DIM. DIM (diindolylmethane) can help your body eliminate excess estrogen that fuels endometriosis growths. General dosage: 100-400mg daily with meals.
5. Add antioxidants. Women with endometriosis need more antioxidants to fight inflammation and damage to ovarian reserve. Learn more: New Research Shows The Importance of Antioxidants for Women with Endometriosis.
6. Systemic Enzymes promote normal immune system balance. In endometriosis, the immune system is challenged by increased free radical activity, inflammation, and abnormal tissue growths. Systemic Enzymes support normal body processes, and can even help break down excess tissue and scarring.
If you have endometriosis and chocolate cysts and are facing long-term fertility challenges, it may be best to work with a naturopath or fertility herbalist to find the right therapies for you. Surgical approaches also provide benefits, but working with a surgeon experienced with endometriosis is important. Whatever your therapy choices, make a commitment to be patient and consistent. The rewards of a healthier, more fertile body await you!
- Rodriguez, H. (2017). 5 Steps To Reversing Endometriosis Infertility. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/endometriosis
- Treatment of Chocolate Cysts. (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.drmalpani.com/articles/chocolate-cyst
- Berna, C. (2017). Endometrioma: What You Need To Know. Retrieved from: https://www.endofound.org/endometriomas-what-you-need-to-know