Ovarian Cysts – Pelvic Pain and other Symptoms

Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries and cause a variety of symptoms. Most females develop this condition with the onset of ovulation and mostly have functional cysts. This is a very common complaint as one in every 5 women experience ovarian cysts at some time in life.

Location of pain

Pain is generally experienced in the pelvis and lower abdomen.


Most of the time, ovarian cysts are small and are asymptomatic. However, the largest cysts may cause some symptoms:

  • Pelvic pain during menstruation
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen, lower back, and thighs
  • Urinary incontinence and bowel problems
  • Painful sex
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Secondary amenorrhea
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Hirsutism
  • Tender breasts
  • Mood swings

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are two major types of ovarian cysts; Functional and Pathological.

Functional cysts are further classified into Follicular and Luteal ovarian cysts. Follicular cysts, being the most common type. They appear for a shorter period and don’t cause any major symptoms in comparison with Luteal ovarian cysts which appear for a few months and may also rupture causing bleeding and severe pain.

Pathological cysts are also of two types, namely; Dermoid cysts and Cystadenomas. Both of these types required surgical removal and may cause harm to reproductive organs, otherwise.


Both types of Ovarian cysts arise due to different causes. Therefore, the most common causes include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations are due to the use of hormonal contraceptive pills or naturally.
  • Endometriosis also leads to the development of a special type of ovarian cyst, called an endometrioma.
  • Some pathological cells may also form due to the spread of pelvic infections to ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Risk factors

Few of the females are at risk of developing ovarian cysts:

  • Patients with pelvic inflammatory disease
  • During pregnancy
  • Females who have endometriosis
  • Females on birth control pills
  • Girls with early menarche

List of foods to avoid with Ovarian cysts

Since people with Ovarian cysts are prone to develop diabetes at some time in life and have insulin sensitivity, Thus they need to limit their carbohydrate intake. This includes:

  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar
  • Desserts
  • All the baked goods contain refined white flour.


Most of the time, ovarian cysts are benign and disappear on their own without requiring any sort of treatment. However, sometimes they can cause complications, which are:

  • Trouble getting pregnant
  • Ovarian torsion in case of a large cyst
  • Rupture of a cyst resulting in severe pain and extensive bleeding
  • Higher risk of developing diabetes type 2
  • Development of a longstanding ovarian cyst into ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cysts and Ovarian Cancer

Not always but sometimes long-standing ovarian cysts can develop into cancer as you get older. Females who have ovarian cysts are more likely to develop ovarian cancer if their condition persists past menopause.


An ovarian cyst is diagnosed based on the detailed history of symptoms followed by a series of tests which are given under:

  • A pelvic examination may give off swelling on either of the ovaries.
  • Hormonal profile to look for any hormone-related issues as present in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
  • Pregnancy test to rule out the presence of pregnancy in females who present with secondary amenorrhea.
  • Ultrasound to confirm the presence of a cyst.
  • CT scan to get a cross-sectional image.
  • Your doctor might also so ask you to screen for ovarian cancer by getting a CA-125 blood test.


Most of the time ovarian cysts may disappear on their own but symptomatic they require treatment. An ovarian cyst can be treated medically as well as surgically depending upon the size of the cyst and severity of symptoms, the patient presents with.

Medical treatment:

This requires birth control pills to temporarily inhibit ovulation and prevent the formation of new cysts.

Surgical treatment:

  • Laparoscopically, a large cyst is removed to relieve the patient from symptoms.
  • In ovarian cystectomy, just the cyst is removed from the ovary without causing any damage to the ovary itself.
  • Oophorectomy, removal of ovaries completely, is employed in females who don’t wish to conceive in the future.
  • If a cystic mass is cancerous, total hysterectomy is the safest choice followed by chemo and radiotherapy.

Home remedies:

  • Heating pads can be used for cramps during menstruation.
  • Epsom salt baths are also beneficial for cramping.
  • Almonds and other foods that are high in magnesium ease the discomfort.
  • Ginger tea is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Take foods with high fiber content such as leafy greens, squash, and almonds.
  • Lean Proteins are also a good source of energy.
  • Castor oil therapy is employed for cramping caused by cystic mass as it loosens up the mass and cysts and breaks the adhesions and heal scar tissue.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a very good agent for lowering blood glucose levels and also helps contract and disperse cysts.

Essential oils for Ovarian Cysts:

To relieve the pain, Essential oil therapy is a very effective option. This includes rubbing a mixture of the below-mentioned oils on the lower abdomen daily and leaving them overnight:

  • Geranium
  • Frankincense
  • Clary Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Myrrh

When to consult a doctor?

If you have already been diagnosed, you require immediate medical attention when either of these symptoms develop:

  • Sudden onset of severe pain
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Sudden onset of high-grade fever
  • Rapid breathing and dizziness


Do I require surgery for an ovarian cyst?

Not necessarily, most of the time they disappear themselves but if your cyst is growing in size and is painful you might require a surgical procedure for its removal.

Do ovarian cysts cause infertility?

No, but ovarian cysts cause hindrance in normal ovulation and thus make it hard for you to get pregnant. But this can be very efficiently treated by your obstetrician.

Can I prevent the development of ovarian cysts?

Yes, a pathological ovarian cyst can be prevented by taking a few safety measures. However, functional ovarian cysts which are more common, cannot be prevented.

Do I need screening for ovarian cancer if I have Ovarian Cysts?

If you are post-menopause and you have ovarian cysts your doctor might suggest getting a regular screening of ovarian cancer.

What does the Ovarian cyst pain feel like?

Pain is usually sharp but sometimes you may also experience dull pain. In case of rupture of a cyst, sudden pain is experienced.