Small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman’s ovaries are known as ovarian cysts. Usually these cysts are harmless, however, in some cases, they can cause problems when they rupture, bleed, or cause pain. Sometimes, surgery is needed to remove the cyst(s). Here’s a look at the signs and symptoms of ovarian cysts.
Signs and Symptoms
Normally, ovarian cysts don’t cause symptoms—they’re usually seen during a routine physical exam. Symptoms can occur, however, especially if the cyst is large or ruptured. Signs include:
- Pain during sex
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain (this may be intermittent, or can be severe, sudden, and sharp)
- Abnormal menstrual periods
- A feeling of lower abdominal or pelvic pressure or fullness
- Chronic pelvic pain or low back pain throughout the menstrual cycle
- Pelvic pain following exercise or intense activity
- Pain or pressure with urination or bowel movement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vaginal pain or spotty bleeding from the vagina
- Problems having bowel movements
- Feeling pressure to have a bowel movement
- Abdominal tenderness
- Abdominal distension
- Feeling of abdominal fullness
- Feeling full early when eating
- Problems with the control of urination
If the ovarian cyst ruptures, severe pain that comes on suddenly can occur. Rupturing usually happens in the mid-menstrual cycle and following sexual intercourse or exercise.
The following symptoms typically occur if the cyst is causing complications:
- Torsion: If the cyst grows on the stem of an ovary it can become twisted, blocking the blood supply to the cyst and causing severe pain in the lower abdomen.
- Bursting: if the ovarian cyst bursts, severe pain will be experienced in the lower abdomen. Pain will be worse if the cyst is infected—there may also be bleeding.
- Cancer: Although rare, an ovarian cyst may be an early form of ovarian cancer.