Women in their reproductive years develop a functional ovarian cyst about once a month when an ovary releases an egg. But sometimes things go wrong and women develop irregular ovarian cysts, either because an egg doesn’t release (follicular cyst) or there’s a hormone imbalance (polycystic ovarian cyst).
Sometimes ovarian cysts resolve on their own and don’t cause any trouble. But other times, these growths can lead to problematic symptoms or, in rare cases, can rupture and require urgent medical treatment.
Board-certified gynecologist Daniel S. Kushner, MD, and his team in White Plains and Queens, New York, specialize in diagnosing and treating problematic ovarian cysts. If you’re concerned that you may have an ovarian cyst that needs medical treatment, learn more about these five symptoms that could point to this condition.
1. Abdominal pain on one side
Follicular cysts can continue to grow larger and larger. This can create pain and discomfort — especially on the side with the affected ovary.
2. Pain during sexual intercourse
Problematic cysts can cause pain or discomfort when you have sex. Keep in mind, however, that other gynecological issues, like STDs, inflammation, or prolapse, can also make sexual intercourse painful. Dr. Kushner evaluates all possible causes of your pain so you get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
3. Pain your lower back
Recent studies show that when it comes to ovarian cysts, low back pain is more common than medical professionals originally thought. In fact, an ovarian cyst leads to lower back pain in about 45% of women.
Large ovarian cysts are more likely to cause low back pain. This is because bigger cysts are more likely to put pressure on other tissues and organs, triggering discomfort in your back.
Most of the time, women describe this type of low back pain as dull and achy. However, if a cyst ruptures, the pain could become sharp and severe.
4. Urinary or intestinal issues
If you’ve noticed unexplained changes when you urinate or try to move your bowels, it could be because of an ovarian cyst. In some women, ovarian cysts lead to an increase in the urge to urinate. Other women report having trouble emptying their bowels.
5. Abdominal bloating
Unexplained bloating or pressure in your lower abdomen could mean you have an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts can trigger bloating or pressure sensations that come and go.
Treating ovarian cysts
Most ovarian cysts — even those that rupture — don’t cause any symptoms or have only mild symptoms and resolve on their own. For mild symptoms, Dr. Kushner may recommend resting and using over-the-counter pain medicine to ease your discomfort.
For ongoing or strong symptoms, it’s best to schedule an in-office appointment for an evaluation. Dr. Kushner checks for an underlying condition, like PCOS, and recommends the right treatment to help manage your condition, which may include medication such as hormonal birth control pills or minimally invasive surgery.
While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes an ovarian cyst requires urgent treatment. Look for these signs, and call our office or go to your nearest emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Pain with unexplained, heavy bleeding
- Pain with fever and vomiting
- Pain with rapid breathing
- Pain with dizziness, weakness, or fainting
Are you concerned about ovarian cysts? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Kushner for an evaluation or for more information.