Ovaries, located on both sides of the uterus in the woman's reproductive system, are responsible for producing eggs, estrogen, and progesterone. It is not uncommon for fluid-filled sacs or cysts to develop on the ovaries. Most women will develop a cyst on their ovaries at least once in their lifetime. Then is this something you should be concerned about? Do you know what ovarian cyst symptoms are? You'll want to keep reading to learn more.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ovarian Cyst?

Most cysts go undetected because they often show no symptoms at all and are usually discovered during a routine exam or ultrasound. Larger or ruptured cysts, however, can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Pain while having sexual intercourse.

  • Pain either sudden, sharp or intermittent, in the lower abdomen or pelvic area.

  • Irregular menstrual cycles.

  • Pressure or feeling full in the lower abdomen or pelvic region.

  • Lower back or pelvic pain that is continuous during menstrual cycles.

  • Pain in the pelvic region after exercise.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Pressure or pain with bowel movements or urination.

  • Difficulty having bowel movements.

  • Spotting or vaginal pain.

  • Infertility.

  • Tenderness in the abdomen.

  • Abdominal distension.

  • Heartburn.

  • Bloating.

  • Indigestion.

  • Feeling full after eating small amounts of food.

  • Difficulty controlling urination.

If you feel severe pain suddenly, this can be due to a ruptured cyst on the ovary. It is common for this to occur after intercourse or during the menstrual cycle. If you have either of these symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen or pelvic region that comes suddenly.

  • Fever or vomiting that is present with severe pain.

Medical attention should be sought immediately. These symptoms indicate a serious medical issue where a doctor will need to be seen quickly. These symptoms can also present signs of shock such as clammy skin, cold skin, increase in breathing, feeling weak or lightheartedness, and should not be ignored.

What Causes an Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cyst symptoms will vary depending on the type of cysts it is and each type of cysts is caused by different factors.

Follicular Cyst

This is the most common type of cysts on the ovaries and tends to go away on its own in just a few weeks. These cysts are caused when the follicle fails to release an egg or fails to shed its fluid or shrink after releasing the egg. The follicle is where eggs are formed and protected until it is released for fertilization. When the follicle does not release the egg or shed the protective fluid around the egg, the follicle can swell which results in a follicular ovarian cyst.


Luteal Ovarian Cyst

Luteal cysts can form once the egg has been released. The corpus luteum is the tissue left behind after the egg is released and this can fill with blood. These tend to go away after a few month but in some cases, these cysts can rupture.

  • Pathological - The most common type of pathological cyst is the dermoid cyst or cystic teratomas, for women under 30. Women who are over 40, however, are more likely to develop this type of cyst. These cysts are a type of tumor that is usually benign. Dermoid cysts contain a variety of tissues such as hair, skin, and bone, and are formed from totipotential germ cells. The totipotential cells are formed from the same cells that make the eggs in the woman's reproductive system. These cysts require surgery to be removed.

  • Cystadenomas - Some ovarian cyst symptoms are caused from cysts that form on the outside of the ovaries. Cystadenomos form on the outer part of the ovary and can be filled with a mucous substance that is thick or with a more watery liquid. These cysts become attached to the outside of the ovary by a stalk and because of this, they can grow to be significantly large. These cysts are rarely cancerous but do require surgery to be removed.

  • Endometriosis - Women who suffer from endometriosis are more likely to develop ovarian cysts. This condition occurs when the cells that are supposed to be found in the uterus actually grow on the outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells are those cells that are shed during menstruation. This condition is more likely to occur during the childbearing years.

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - PCOS is another condition that can put women at a higher risk of developing ovarian cysts. This condition is caused by a hormone imbalance due to the ovaries. Those with PCOS will often have multiple cysts grow on the ovaries that are small and harmless.

How to Treat Ovarian Cyst


Wait it out

Most often when a cyst is noticed on your ovaries, many doctors will recommend you to wait a few months and have a follow-up pelvic exam performed. Usually, if you have no other symptoms, this is the most common treatment for ovarian cysts no matter what age you may be.


Oral contraceptives

Birth control pills can help reduce ovarian cyst symptoms as well as reduce the risk of new cysts from developing in the future. Birth control can also greatly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer developing.



Cysts that do not go away after three menstrual cycles, are large, not function, may need to be removed through a surgical procedure. An ovarian cystectomy is a surgical procedure where the cyst is removed without the need to remove the ovary. If the ovary needs to be removed, an oophorectomy is performed. If a cyst ends up being cancerous, then a full hysterectomy may be needed to remove both ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.


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