5 Causes of Ovarian Pain and What to Do About It

The ovaries are paired glands that secrete female hormones, produce egg cells, and play a role in the menstrual cycle and fertility. Ovarian pain can be chronic or acute and is sometimes caused by different conditions like cysts or tumors. However, in some cases, ovarian pain may be confused with pelvic pain. Regardless of the type of ovarian pain, you need to consult your gynecologist in order to get a correct diagnosis. Here are five causes of ovarian pain and ways to treat it. 

1. Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs on the ovarian surface. They are usually harmless and don’t have symptoms. 

But if an ovarian cyst is large, it can provoke dull aching pain in the lower abdomen or even rupture which leads to internal bleeding accompanied by acute pain. A ruptured ovarian cyst can result in peritonitis that often leads to fatal complications. 

What to do about it? 

Ovarian pain accompanied by irregular periods, painful intercourse, regular nausea or vomiting, and feeling full after eating very little indicates ovarian cysts. If you experience all of these symptoms, you need to see a gynecologist as soon as possible. If you have a small cyst, you need to check your ovaries regularly in order to monitor changes in its size and avoid any health risks.

2. Ovulation

A woman may experience ovarian pain during ovulation every month (dysmenorrhea) which can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Doctors still don’t know the causes of painful periods but assume that dysmenorrhea may be provoked by contractions in the uterus which can press against blood vessels and cause pain. Another theory suggests that ovarian pain occurs due to a sharp increase in the size of the egg in the ovary immediately before ovulation.

What to do about it? 

Pain relievers like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen will help you cope with painful periods. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol consumption, rest, and massaging lower back and abdomen are also effective in relieving menstrual cramps. 

3. Ovarian Neoplasms

Ovarian neoplasms are benign (noncancerous) tumors that can also lead to ovarian pain. Symptoms of ovarian neoplasms include

  • Bloating 
  • Pressure in the pelvis 
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination 
  • Diarrhea or constipation 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Unexplained weight loss

What to do about it? 

Your gynecologist will analyze your symptoms and may prescribe additional examinations, for example, MRI. You may also require a blood test for specific proteins that indicate possible oncological processes. Depending on the test results, your doctor will plan the most effective treatment.

4. Ovarian Inflammation

Ovarian inflammation is usually caused by bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, in some cases, inflammation can be triggered by autoimmune diseases, hypothermia or endocrine disorders. 

Ovarian inflammation is sometimes asymptomatic, with the exception of acute pains. However, it’s usually accompanied by such symptoms as: 

  • pain during sex;
  • vaginal discharge, often with an unpleasant odor;
  • fever;
  • weakness;
  • painful urination.

What to do about it? 

Depending on the results of the examination, your doctor will recommend you to undergo additional examinations such as blood and urine tests, and ultrasound and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.

5. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue lining the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus and spreads to fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the tissue that lines your pelvis. This tissue will thicken, grow, and bleed with each menstrual cycle. Endometrial-like tissue often causes irritations of pelvic tissues and organs which may result in abdominal adhesions. Ovarian endometriosis involves such symptoms as: 

  • Long and painful periods
  • Pain during sex
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding 
  • Infertility 
  • Pain in the lower abdomen      

What to do about it? 

Endometriosis diagnosis includes a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and MRI. Depending on the severity, your doctor will choose medical treatment or surgery. Gynecologists recommend trying medical treatment first which involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, naproxen sodium or ibuprofen and hormone therapy (hormonal contraceptives, progestin therapy, aromatase inhibitors, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists). 

Don’t ignore acute pain in conjunction with fever, nausea, and vomiting since these symptoms require immediate medical attention and perhaps immediate surgical intervention. Regardless, if you don’t experience such symptoms but still concerned about your state of health, be sure to visit your gynecologist.     


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