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Cysts & Cycles: My Journey to Pregnancy

I have always been sensitive to my cycles since I started them at 13. I can always feel myself ovulate. I have gone through one known ovarian cyst rupture, but I believe I may have had one around 14. I was having such intense stomach pains and I remember my mom took me to the ER. They basically told me I was constipated and that was it, so I guess I’ll never truly know if I had an earlier cyst rupture or not.

My cycles were irregular, as they are for most young girls. I didn’t have a super heavy or painful period, but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. During my senior year of high school I started dating my now husband, so I told my mom that I think it’s time I get on the birth control pill. We did use protection, but being the planner I am, I wanted the extra security the pill provides. I also struggled with hormonal acne (still do to this day) and read that birth control pills can help with that by regulating your cycles, so I was all for it. I was prescribed the regular low dose pill, that contains both estrogen and progesterone & sugar pills for the “period” week. I loved that I was actually able to track my cycles and protect myself from an unwanted pregnancy. I also did not experience any weight gain, mood swings, or any other common side effects of the pill. It did not improve my acne, but I felt fine on it and took that pill faithfully for 5 years.

Sometimes I would get this pain in my lower right abdomen. This feeling of hitting a sore spot like when you have a bruise and press on it. Most of the time it would be a dull ache for a few minutes, or just a feeling of something being there. Other times I felt as if someone was stabbing me in my right side, right next to my hip, but any of these pains I felt would only last a few seconds/minutes. I assumed it was just ovulation pain, or maybe a pulled muscle.

Fast forward to 2018 – I was working at a school as an aid in Pre-K and as I walked down the hallway I felt a pain that was a hundred times worse than what I had experienced before. It was so bad I had to stop, hunch over, and breathe through it for about 5 minutes. As I breathed and sobbed through the stabbing pain I wondered if this is what women in labor go through how am I ever going to do that?!

After 3 consecutive days of this intense pain I went to the ER. Of course when I got there the pain was back to a dull ache but it still hurt when the doctors applied pressure. Because of the symptoms I described they thought I could be starting to develop appendicitis so they ordered a CT scan.

Low and behold I had a 5.1 cm cyst on my right ovary. I was told that normally any cyst over 5cm is recommended for surgical removal because of the risk of ovarian torsion, AKA the cyst twists and cuts off blood flow to the ovary which is very painful and can cause the ovary to die. With all of this info I was sent home and told to follow up with my OB.

I got to my boyfriend’s house and I broke down. My boyfriend, his mother, his aunt, and I all prayed that these cysts would go away and I just sobbed. All my life I wanted to be a mother. I had my first daughters name picked out since I was a little girl myself. I was engaged, young, and relatively healthy. I couldn’t understand why I had this. I felt like my journey to motherhood was going to be difficult because I knew what PCOS was and that ovarian cysts can make it harder to get pregnant. I did follow up with my OB. I had a pelvic exam and the doctor told me she could feel the cyst so I was scheduled for an ultrasound 3 days later. I went to that ultrasound and the tech didn’t find ANYTHING. All of this occurred in June 2018 and I continued on my pill because the doctors told me that birth control pills can keep cysts from forming since it stops you from ovulating. Well that is clearly NOT the case for me and my body. I continued having the pain for months on end. Always worse around my ovulation time and only on my right ovary. I may not have been diagnosed, but I 100% believe that my right ovary is cystic. Because of my fear about how hard my journey would be, I was very proactive about my fertility and maybe that’s why my journey has turned out the way it did.

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