Known Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst

woman experiencing abdominal pain

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  • Ovarian cysts are usually small and benign, and in most cases, symptoms may not appear
  • Because most ovarian cysts do not show symptoms, they may be undiagnosed. An effect of this is the difficulty in estimating the incidence and prevalence of ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are usually small and benign, and in most cases, symptoms may not appear. However, the appearance of symptoms alone isn't enough to indicate whether a patient has a cyst or not, as other conditions, such as ovarian cancer, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or ectopic pregnancy may have similar indicators. Common ovarian cyst symptoms a patient can experience include:1

Irregular menstruation or periods that are more painful, heavier or lighter than normal

Pelvic pain that may be persistent or intermittent (it manifests as a dull ache that can spread to the lower back and thighs)

Pelvic pain that develops before menstruation begins or ends

Dyspareunia or pelvic pain during sexual intercourse

Abdominal pain and discomfort after sexual intercourse

Pain when passing stool

Pregnancy symptoms like breast tenderness and nausea

Pressure on the rectum or bladder, wherein the patient may need to go to the toilet more often to urinate or pass stool

Bloating, swelling or heaviness in the abdomen

Problems fully emptying the bladder

Abnormal hormone production that can lead to changes in breast and body hair growth


There are also more complicated signs of an ovarian cyst, such as:

Torsion: If the ovarian cyst grows on the stem of an ovary, this stem can become twisted, block the blood supply to the cyst and trigger severe pain in the lower abdomen.

Burst: An ovarian cyst that bursts can cause pain in the lower abdomen, as well as bleeding. If the cyst is infected, the pain will be worse.

Cancer: In rare cases, the presence of an ovarian cyst can signify an early form of ovarian cancer.

Diagnosing Ovarian Cysts

Because most ovarian cysts do not show symptoms, they may be undiagnosed. An effect of this is the difficulty in estimating the incidence and prevalence of ovarian cysts. There's also a tendency for people to be diagnosed with a cyst during an unrelated pelvic exam or ultrasound, even if no symptoms are present.2

If you or someone you know notices early indicators of an ovarian cyst, consult a gynecologist immediately. The gynecologist will carry out a physical exam and check for possible symptoms. To fully diagnose an ovarian cyst, your physician will need to know these following qualities of the cyst:

Shape

Size

Composition (whether it’s filled with solid, fluid or both): In most cases, fluid-filled cysts aren’t cancerous, but some may need to undergo further testing.

Apart from a physical exam, the gynecologist may order these diagnostic tests:3,4

Pelvic ultrasound: This helps verify the presence of a cyst, its location and its composition. A transducer, or wand-like scanner probe, is placed on the abdomen, over the ovaries’ location, although it can also be placed inside the vagina. The gynecologist observes the ovaries on a video screen.

CA 125 blood test: This checks if a patient has elevated blood levels of a protein called cancer antigen 125 (CA 125). Your gynecologist can recommend that you take a CA 125 test if you develop a partially solid ovarian cyst and have a high risk for ovarian cancer. Knowing the amount of CA 125 in the blood can help determine if the cyst is cancerous or not.

High CA 125 levels can mean that a woman has ovarian cancer, although elevated amounts of protein are also present among patients with endometriosis, uterine fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Pregnancy test: A positive pregnancy test result may signal that a patient has a corpus luteum cyst. This type of cyst develops when the ruptured follicle that releases the egg reseals and becomes filled with fluid.

Laparoscopy: A thin and lighted instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen via a small incision. This will allow the gynecologist to see the ovaries and remove the ovarian cyst (if one is present). A laparoscopy is often done under general anesthesia.5

MORE ABOUT OVARIAN CYST

Ovarian Cyst: an Introduction

What Is Ovarian Cyst?

Ruptured Ovarian Cyst

Ovarian Cyst During Pregnancy

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

Ovarian Cyst Pain

Ovarian Cyst Causes

Ovarian Cyst Types

Ovarian Cyst Treatment

Ovarian Cyst Removal

Ovarian Cyst Prevention

Ovarian Cyst Diet

Ovarian Cyst FAQ



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