What are ovarian cysts?
The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They're located in the lower abdomen on both sides of the uterus. Women have two ovaries that produce eggs as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Sometimes, a fluid-filled sac called a cyst will develop on one of the ovaries. Many women develop at least one cyst during their lifetime. In most cases, cysts are painless and cause no symptoms.
Symptoms of an ovarian cyst
Often times, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms, but symptoms can appear as the cyst grows. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful bowel movements
- Painful intercourse
- Pain in the lower back or thighs
- Pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
Anyone experiencing more severe symptoms should contact a doctor immediately.
Who gets ovarian cysts?
It is common for a woman with regular periods to develop an ovarian cyst. It is usually harmless and goes away on its own. They are less common after menopause. Women who have reached menopause and have an ovarian cyst are at higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Because most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms and go away on their own, they may be completely unnoticed. If you have pain or irregular periods, you may need to have a pelvic ultrasound to see if there is a cyst.