Ovarian cysts are extremely common, and almost every woman of childbearing age develops at least one cyst each month as part of her normal menstrual cycle. Most of the time, ovarian cysts go away on their own without causing any symptoms.
But when the cyst doesn’t resolve or when you develop troublesome symptoms, like pain during or after sex, it’s time to seek medical help. At Daniel S. Kushner, MD, with offices in White Plains and Queens, New York, we specialize in helping women with ovarian cysts find the treatment they need.
Dr. Kushner and our entire care team want you to better understand ovarian cysts and how they can cause painful sex. We’ve curated this informative guide so you know what to look for and understand what can be done for troublesome ovarian cysts.
Understanding ovarian cysts
Your ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone and play a large role in your menstrual cycle, reproductive cycle, and breast health. Throughout your reproductive years, one of your ovaries releases an egg as part of your normal menstrual cycle, usually every month or so.
Cysts can develop on your ovaries for different reasons, usually as part of the process when an egg is released from the follicle during ovulation. These functional cysts aren’t cause for concern because they’re a natural part of your menstrual cycle.
When the egg isn’t released from the ovary as it should be, you may develop a follicular ovarian cyst. Cysts can also form outside of your menstrual cycle, and while they don’t always cause symptoms, they can create health concerns like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that may affect your fertility and your overall health.
Cysts differ in size, measuring from less than an inch to more than 4 inches. The development of problematic ovarian cysts can be triggered by:
- Hormonal issues, including hormone therapy
- Pelvic infections
- Infertility treatments
It’s normal for adolescents and women of childbearing age to develop cysts. If you’re a menopausal woman or pre-pubescent girl, however, it’s less common for you to have ovarian cysts.
Signs of ovarian cysts
Most women with ovarian cysts don't experience any major symptoms. In fact, in most cases, ovarian cysts are diagnosed during a regular pelvic examination and don’t require any intervention.
But some cysts can cause problematic symptoms. Regular well-woman exams with Dr. Kushner help him catch any irregular cysts early. You should also be aware of the most common signs of ovarian cysts:
- Pain on one side of your abdomen
- Issues emptying your bladder
- Pain during bowel movements
- Unusual pain during your period
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as spotting
- Dull pain in your back or thighs
Ovarian cysts can also cause pain during sex.
Painful sex and ovarian cysts
If you’re experiencing painful sex, an ovarian cyst could be the cause. Typically, painful sex with an ovarian cyst indicates that the cyst has ruptured.
Many women don’t feel anything or experience only mild symptoms when an ovarian cyst ruptures. Intense physical activity, like sex, can trigger the cyst to rupture. If the pain isn’t too severe or if it feels more like bloating or pressure, you probably don’t need to seek immediate medical attention. The fluid gets reabsorbed over time.
However, if the pain you experience during or after sex is intense, severe, and includes other symptoms, it’s important to see Dr. Kushner or an emergency provider right away. These symptoms include:
- Pain accompanied by fever and vomiting
- Pain that triggers dizziness, weakness, or fainting
- Pain with unexplained heavy bleeding
- Pain that causes rapid breathing
If you experience painful sex along with any of these symptoms, if your pain doesn’t get better, or if your pain gets worse, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treating ovarian cysts
Most of the time, ovarian cysts go away without the need for medical intervention. These types of cysts don’t typically cause any lasting problems. The right treatment for your ovarian cysts depends on your symptoms and the type of cyst you have. Dr. Kushner diagnoses your ovarian cysts to determine what type of treatment is right for you.
Common treatment options for ovarian cysts may include:
- Watchful waiting to ensure the cyst resolves
- Medications like hormone-based birth control
- Minimally invasive surgery to remove cysts
If you’re experiencing painful sex and are worried about ovarian cysts, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kushner. Call the office nearest you, or request an appointment online now.