Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in an ovary or on its surface. Women of childbearing age often develop them. Most ovarian cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. However, some may cause noticeable symptoms. If you experience any of the following signs, you should see a gynecologist to rule out the possibility of an ovarian cyst.
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Signs of ovarian cysts
1. Pelvic pain that may come and go
The most common symptom of an ovarian cyst is pelvic pain. This can be a sharp pain or a dull ache that you feel in your lower abdomen. The pain may come and go, or it may be constant.
Many women experience bloating right before their period, but if you’re bloated more often than usual, it could be a sign of an ovarian cyst.
3. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal if it occurs outside of your normal menstrual cycle. This can include spotting between periods or bleeding after sex. It may also be heavier than usual or last longer than normal. If you have irregular vaginal bleeding, it could be a sign of something serious, so it’s important to see your gynecologist right away.
4. Nausea and vomiting
If the cyst is twisting an ovary, it can cause severe pain along with nausea and vomiting. Many women compare the pain to morning sickness or the flu, so it’s important to see your doctor to rule out other possibilities.
5. Pain during sex
Intercourse shouldn’t be painful, so if you’re experiencing pain during sex, it could be due to an ovarian cyst. Endometriomas, for example, can cause deep pain during penetration.
6. Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
If the cyst is pressing on your bladder, you may feel like you have to urinate more frequently. You may also have difficulty emptying your bladder completely. Similarly, if the cyst is pressing on your rectum, you may experience constipation or have difficulty having a bowel movement.
7. A dull ache in the lower back and thighs
This is usually caused by an enlarged ovary pressing on nerves in your pelvis, resulting in referred pain in your lower back and thighs.
LEARN MORE: 12 Home Remedies For Ovarian Cysts
How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
Ovarian cysts are typically diagnosed with a physical exam and an ultrasound. During the physical exam, your doctor will feel your abdomen for any growths or unusual masses. The ultrasound will help to determine the size and type of the cyst.
Will I need to have surgery to remove an ovarian cyst?
Most women with benign (non-cancerous) ovarian cysts will not need surgery to remove them. However, if you have a large ovarian cyst or a complex ovarian cyst, you may need to have surgery to remove it.
Can I prevent ovarian cysts?
There is no surefire way to prevent all types of ovarian cysts from developing, but there are some things you can do to lower your risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding hormone therapy, and using birth control pills. If you have PCOS, managing your condition with medication may also help prevent new cysts from forming.
If you think you might have an ovarian cyst, it’s important to see a gynecologist so that they can properly diagnose and treat you. While most ovarian cysts are benign (not cancerous), some can cause serious symptoms such as pelvic pain or pressure, bloating, nausea, and vomiting—especially if they rupture. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist today.