Some women struggle with pelvic pain resulting from chronic ovarian cysts. In many cases, the cysts (although uncomfortable) are typically small and resolve on their own. Diet, over-the-counter medications, certain supplements, epsom salt baths, and heat therapy are a few ways women deal with this pelvic pain discomfort. Generally speaking, these are effective at home ways of handling recurring small ovarian cysts.
However, it’s important to recognize when cysts become a problem that requires more serious medical intervention. Typically, this can happen if your cysts tend to grow in size and do not resolve on their own.
Ovarian Cyst Symptoms You Might Experience
Oftentimes, ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms aside from minor pelvic pain. But, if a cyst is growing larger, you’ll likely begin experiencing a number of symptoms including:
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- painful bowel movements
- pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
- painful intercourse
- pain in the lower back or thighs
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
Severe symptoms of an ovarian cyst that require immediate medical attention include:
- severe or sharp pelvic pain
- faintness or dizziness
- rapid breathing
These symptoms are very serious and can be a sign of a ruptured cyst or an ovarian torsion; both of which need to be treated quickly to avoid serious complications.
How Can I Find Out if My Pelvic Pain is From an Ovarian Cyst?
Most ovarian cysts can be found through a routine pelvic examination by your doctor. Your doctor will look for signs of swelling on one of your ovaries and order an ultrasound test to confirm the presence of a cyst. An ultrasound test (ultrasonography) is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of your internal organs. Ultrasound tests help determine the size, location, shape, and composition (solid or fluid filled) of a cyst.
Can I Prevent Ovarian Cysts?
No, but you can take proactive steps to make sure small cysts don’t turn into a large problem. First and most importantly, go for your routine gynecological exams. This is the best way to detect a cyst early. The sooner your OBGYN suspects the presence of a cyst(s) through ultrasound or general exam, the easier it will be to follow growth patterns and recommend treatment.
Second, document your symptoms well so you can have a meaningful discussion with your doctor. Be sure to tell your OB if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- changes in your menstrual cycle
- ongoing pelvic pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- abdominal fullness
What Are Some Medical Treatment Options?
If the cyst(s) continues to grow in size or doesn’t go away on its own, your doctor might recommend further treatment.
Birth control pills
This is the most common medical treatment for recurrent ovarian cysts. Your doctor can prescribe oral contraceptives to stop ovulation and prevent the development of new cysts. Oral contraceptives can also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer. The risk of ovarian cancer is higher in postmenopausal women.
If your cyst is small and results from an imaging test to rule out cancer, your doctor can perform a laparoscopy to surgically remove the cyst. The procedure involves your doctor making a tiny incision near your navel and then inserting a small instrument into your abdomen to remove the cyst.
If you have an unusually large cyst, your doctor can surgically remove the cyst through a large incision in your abdomen.
If you liked this blog, you might also like: