Illustration of ovaries to highlight shrinking ovarian cysts naturally

How to shrink ovarian cysts naturally

Medically reviewed on August 17, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


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Female ovaries are an essential part of the reproductive cycle. Not only do they produce and store human eggs, but they also generate the hormones that regulate menstruation and pregnancy. However, sometimes they can develop ovarian cysts, which can lead to a host of reproductive problems.

Roughly 10 in every 100 people with ovaries experience a functional ovarian cyst at some point in their lives. [1] And while many cysts are harmless, others can cause discomfort, menstrual irregularities, and other health issues. In some cases, ovarian cysts may need to be addressed directly with methods for shrinking ovarian cysts or medical treatment.

To know how to shrink ovarian cysts naturally, it’s important to understand what they are and what medical issues they can present. Below, we’ll explore the different types of ovarian cysts, how to know if you have one, and steps you may be able to take to manage them.

What is an ovarian cyst?

An ovarian cyst is an enlarged fluid-filled sac or tissue that can form on or inside one or both ovaries. They may be small, around ½ an inch, but in rare cases can grow up to 4 inches in size. [2]

When an ovarian cyst expands significantly, it can cause your ovaries to move and twist. As you might imagine, this can provide severe pain. That said, the vast majority of ovarian cysts are painless and pose little to no risk.

Benign cysts vs. malignant cysts

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of ovarian cysts:

  • Benign cysts – A benign cyst is a noncancerous growth. Most ovarian cysts fall into this category. Benign cysts won’t necessarily cause pain or medical problems, but they often do.
  • Malignant cysts – Malignant ovarian cysts can become cancerous. Malignant cysts are quite rare.

Some cysts are also referred to as “borderline,” meaning they have a small potential of becoming malignant. [3]

Types of ovarian cysts

Beyond the malignant vs. benign categorization, there are several distinct types of ovarian cysts.

Functional cysts

Most ovarian cysts are considered functional cysts. Believe it or not, these cysts form as part of the typical ovulation process. [4]

There are three common types of functional ovarian cysts:

  • Corpus luteum cyst – During each menstrual cycle, a group of cells called a corpus luteum naturally forms inside your ovaries. If it fills with blood, it’s known as a corpus luteum cyst.
  • Follicular cyst – Your ova (eggs) are surrounded by a small sac called a follicle. During ovulation, the follicle is supposed to open and release the egg. However, if ovulation doesn’t occur, the follicle can fill with fluid. The resulting cyst is called a follicular cyst.
  • Theca lutein cyst – Theca lutein cysts are most common in people taking hormones for infertility. These cysts typically appear in groups on both ovaries.

Cystadenomas

These benign tumors form on the epithelium of your ovary. The epithelium is the thin layer of tissue that covers the inner and outer walls of your internal organs. Cystadenomas can either contain a mucus-like fluid or a thin watery fluid. [5]

Endometriomas

Endometriomas are darkly colored cysts filled with thick blood. Due to their appearance, they can also be called a “chocolate cyst.”

Endometriomas are related to a condition called endometriosis—a reproductive condition that causes uterine cells to grow outside the boundaries of the uterus. [5]

PCOS cysts

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that can cause numerous small cysts to grow in the ovaries. People with PCOS often produce too many androgens (a male sex hormone), which prevents the egg cells from maturing normally. [1]

Dermoid cysts

Unlike other ovarian cysts, dermoid cysts are not filled with fluid. Instead, they contain tissue, such as:

  • Skin cells
  • Sebaceous glands
  • Hair
  • Nerves
  • Teeth

Dermoid cysts are relatively rare. They’re typically benign, but they can occasionally turn malignant. [5]

How to know if you have an ovarian cyst

Because you can’t see inside your body, you won’t know when an ovarian cyst begins to form. Most people find out about cysts during an ultrasound. More rarely, your first clue will be the symptoms you experience.

Depending on the type of ovarian cyst you have, you may notice:

  • Bloating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen (pelvic pain)
  • Painful bowel movements
  • A “heavy” feeling in the abdomen
  • A pinching feeling in the uterus or ovaries
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Spotting (unexpected bleeding between periods)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

However, some ovarian cysts develop with no noticeable symptoms. In these cases, the only way to know if you have a cyst is through tests like:

  • A pelvic exam
  • A CT scan or MRI
  • An abdominal ultrasound
  • A vaginal ultrasound

Keep in mind that if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, it's still possible to have a benign ovarian cyst.

How are ovarian cysts treated medically?

Since ovarian cysts are common, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to determine the type of cyst you have and how it can best be addressed. While there are medical treatments that can remove ovarian cysts or keep them from coming back, you typically can’t “shrink” a cyst using medication.

For example, taking an oral contraceptive can keep new cysts from forming, but it can’t make a current cyst disappear. Similarly, surgery—which is usually only necessary in rare cases—can completely remove a malignant cyst, but it can’t shrink it over time.

This is why many people who want to shrink an existing cyst without medication or surgery turn to natural solutions for treatment.

5 potential ways to naturally shrink or manage ovarian cysts

Before diving into some non-invasive options for managing ovarian cysts, it bears mentioning that there’s little evidence to suggest natural options can effectively treat them.

Natural solutions are rarely regulated or approved by the FDA. Still, some patients report relief after trying these methods. So, even if you don’t find them helpful, there’s little risk associated with giving these five methods a go.

#1 Observe and wait

Sometimes the simplest route is the best option. Some ovarian cysts, such as functional cysts, will go away without intervention after a few menstrual cycles. In fact, many healthcare providers will recommend a wait-and-see approach.

However, this so-called “watchful waiting” is only recommended if you have a minor, fluid-filled cyst with no additional symptoms. [6]

It’s also worth noting that the “observing” part of this option is essential. If you’re hoping your ovarian cyst will shrink on its own, you’ll need to undergo regular ultrasounds to confirm that the cyst is indeed disappearing.

Before you decide to watch and wait, talk to your healthcare provider to see if it’s the right choice.

#2 Apply heat

Some people find that applying heat near the ovary can help with managing the discomfort that can accompany ovarian cysts. In theory, this may occur for two reasons:

  • Placing a hot water bottle or warm compress on your abdomen can temporarily relieve any pain you might be experiencing. Heat helps you relax your muscles, and it can alleviate some of the cramping related to ovarian cysts.
  • Applying heat might help thin the liquid inside the cyst. The claim here is that this can encourage the cyst to drain more quickly. Keep in mind that, if this claim is true, it would only be effective on fluid-filled cysts.

#3 Massage painful areas

When an ovarian cyst is particularly painful, you may feel your muscles tighten up. As with heat, massage can help relieve the aches and pains associated with tight muscles.

Try self-massaging the following areas (or asking a partner to help):

  • Stomach
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Lower back

#4 Drink herbal tea

Some teas have reported benefits for managing ovarian cyst symptoms. Popular choices include:

  • Ginger tea – A steaming cup of ginger tea—complete with some lemon and honey—may help you destress and relax your muscles. Ginger is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. [7]
  • Chamomile tea – Chamomile is often an herbal ingredient found in “nighttime” teas used to relax. Additionally, chamomile has been shown to help with inflammation and anxiety. [8]

#5 Seek out other herbs and roots

In addition to ginger and chamomile, other roots and herbs have a reputation for aiding ovarian cyst symptoms. Some of these herbs have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, while others have only recently gained popularity.

Some of the more well-known roots and herbs include:

  • Maca root
  • Dong Quai root
  • Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree berry)
  • Witch hazel

According to some natural wellness sites, these herbal remedies can help shrink existing ovarian cysts and prevent new ones from forming. [9]

Once again, keep in mind that there is little clinical proof that these natural remedies will work to shrink ovarian cysts. But they might work to alleviate the discomfort that attends them, and there’s little risk in sampling small amounts of these naturally-occurring ingredients. When in doubt, speak with your healthcare provider.

Check your ovarian health from home with Everlywell

While cysts are common and typically benign, your ovaries are an important part of your reproductive and overall health. Whether you’re going through menopause, or simply living your life, keeping tabs on your ovarian health—cysts or not—may require testing.

An at-home ovarian reserve test or fertility test can provide insight into your hormone levels. When you take an Everlywell test, you won’t even have to visit a clinic. All you have to do is take a small blood sample, mail it to our lab, and wait a few days for your results.

By understanding your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), and more, you can take control of your overall reproductive well-being.

Are ovarian cysts genetic?

Can you get pregnant with one ovary?

Can stress cause ovarian cysts?

What is a follicle on the ovary?


References

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ovarian cysts: Overview. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  2. Cedars Sinai. Ovarian Cyst. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Ovarian Cysts. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  4. American Cancer Society. What Is Ovarian Cancer? URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Ovarian cysts: Diagnosis and treatment. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  6. Mayo Clinic. Ovarian cysts: Symptoms and causes. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Efficacy of Chamomile in the Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome: A Systematic Review. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  9. Natural Fertility Info. How to Help Ovarian Cysts Naturally and Safely with Herbs and Supplements… URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
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