Ovarian cysts: spoilsport for getting pregnant

Cysten in spoelvloeistof

Cysts in flushing fluid

In spring Dr Karin Hendriks enthusiastically took up the mare supervision for a breeder with several Friesian mares. ‘In this herd was a 16-year-old mare who had already given birth to various foals. In recent years she had developed several cysts, fluid-filled sacs, on the uterine wall. In the previous year the mare had given birth late in the season and therefore the owner deliberately left her empty.’


The examination in early spring showed up several larger cysts (0.5-2 cm) at several places in the uterus: ‘Following this examination I had plainly explained the problems in relation to pregnancy to the owner and without further treatment we went ahead with the fertility process. The mare was inseminated at the right moment and instantly became pregnant. However, the follicle was rubbing against a cyst of 2cm in diameter and on the second fertility check the mare was no longer pregnant.’


A healthy uterine wall consists of several layers which contain for instance gland-, blood- and lymph vessels. All this together makes it possible for a follicle to develop into a healthy foal. Cysts originate as a blockage in gland vessels or changes in the lymph vessels in the uterine wall, and are a sign of ageing. There are various ways cysts can cause problems for fertility. Karin Hendriks carried out a hysteroscopy on the Friesian mare, which involved keyhole camera examination of the uterus to treat the cysts. After treatment the 16-year-old mare was again inseminated.
Interested to find out more about ovarian cysts and treatments? Read the full on-the-job article by Dr Karin Hendriks in the April issue of Phryso.

Dr Karin Hendriks graduated at the Veterinary Faculty of Utrecht in 2001. She has researched equine reproductive techniques and in 2018 took her Ph D based on this subject. Hendriks is a Certified Equine Veterinarian as well as European Specialist Equine Reproduction and works together with the ‘Paardenkliniek (Equine Clinic, ed.) De Graafschap Dierenartsen’ in Vorden.

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