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Ovarian Cysts Symptoms & Diagnosis


Most ovarian cysts do not cause symptoms. The two most common symptoms are:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Menstrual bleeding

Pain is usually caused by:

  • Direct pressure from the cysts on the ovaries and surrounding structures
    • Causing chronic pelvic fullness or a dull ache
  • Bleeding from a cyst into and around the ovary
    • Causing more intense, sharp pain as the blood irritates the lining of the abdomen

Pain may come and go on a regular basis. Or, you may notice the pain more:

  • Just before or after your period
  • During sex

Other symptoms:

  • Urinary discomfort associated with bladder pressure or irritation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

In rare cases, a cyst may become twisted. This can cut off its own blood supply, causing:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Call your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a pelvic exam. Cysts are often found during routine pelvic exams when there are no symptoms.

If a cyst is suspected or found, the doctor may do a pelvic ultrasound . This is a test that uses sound waves to create images of the ovaries. Using this test, your doctor can determine:

  • Type and size of the cyst
  • Type of treatment needed

Other tests or procedures may be used if a cyst:

  • Does not go away after several menstrual cycles
  • Gets larger and more painful
  • Does not appear to be a simple functional cyst

Other tests may include:

  • Laparoscopy —a thin, lighted tube and other small instruments are inserted through several tiny incisions in the abdomen to look at the ovaries directly, drain fluid from a cyst, or take a sample for biopsy
  • Blood test for the protein CA-125 —done when a cyst is suspected of being cancerous
    • CA-125 is often elevated in the case of ovarian cancer. But it can also be elevated in benign situations.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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