What Does It Feel Like If You Have An Ovarian Cyst?

Maybe you've heard of someone who has had an ovarian cyst, or perhaps you've had one yourself. The ovaries attend to major functions involved in women's reproductive health. Cedars Sinai explains how they produce estrogen and progesterone, which are hormones involved in pregnancy and the menstrual cycle. An ovarian cyst is a pouch filled with fluid that can develop on or inside the ovaries. Women who are pregnant, have hormonal problems, or have a pelvic infection may be more likely to experience an ovarian cyst, the Mayo Clinic says.

You may have not heard that there are actually a few types of ovarian cysts. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common ovarian cyst falls under the category of a "functional cyst." Also referred to as "simple cysts," these cysts are not related to any disease and can develop after an egg is released from an ovary during ovulation. 

Other cysts could potentially be a warning sign of disease. Cedars Sinai says that endometrioma cysts can sometimes be seen in women who have endometriosis. These cysts appear a darker color, as they are filled with old blood and tissue. The Cleveland Clinic notes that the majority of ovarian cysts go away on their own without causing any harm. In more rare cases, though, they could be an indication of ovarian cancer. 

Now you may be wondering — what does having an ovarian cyst feel like, and how would someone be able to tell if they had one?

Is an ovarian cyst painful?

Ovarian cysts surely sound like they would be painful, but are they? According to the Mayo Clinic, someone with an ovarian cyst will feel little to no pain or discomfort most of the time. Usually, a cyst will subside on its own without the appearance of symptoms. 

However, cysts that are larger can twist an ovary and can even rupture, resulting in uncomfortable and painful symptoms. Cedars Sinai reports that in women who do experience symptoms, they may notice pain during sex or during their period, pain or pressure on the side of the belly where the cyst is located, pain in the lower back, breast tenderness, and weight gain. On rare occasions, they may notice abnormal vaginal bleeding. The Office on Women's Health shares that when a cyst causes an ovary to become twisted, an individual could experience nausea and vomiting. Alternatively, a ruptured cyst can cause bleeding in the abdomen, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to reach out to an obstetrics and gynecology doctor (OB/GYN). They can diagnose your symptoms and may refer you to take a series of tests if they deem that it's necessary. As explained by Cedars Sinai, an ultrasound can be used to observe the size and location of an ovarian cyst, as well as whether the cyst is filled with fluid or if it's solid. A biopsy could also be recommended if the cyst is suspected to be cancerous.