Women who are experiencing pain — either constant or intermittent — in what they think are their ovaries are right to take their symptoms seriously. In most cases, these women are right to seek medical care. It is, however, important to remember that abdominal pain in general can be hard to pinpoint, therefore it is possible that your pain is instead originating from one of your other internal organs (including your bowels!). Ovarian pain is felt in the lower abdomen and pelvis, below belly-button height.
We'll take a closer look at the possible causes of ovarian pain here.
Ovarian cysts — sacs filled with different types of fluid — are a fairly frequent occurrence in women, especially women of reproductive age. Most are harmless and will go away on their own, but some require medical intervention. Though usually symptomless, they can indeed lead to pain, especially in cases of rupture or twisting. If you have an ovarian cyst, you may experience:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Pain, particularly during sexual intercourse, bowel movements or other strenuous physical activities
- Abdominal bloating
- Feeling full after eating a small amount
Ovarian tumors can be benign or cancerous. Besides pain, other symptoms that can point to ovarian tumors are abdominal bloating, pressure, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation, urinary urgency, sudden weight changes, and a loss of appetite. Always see your doctor if you notice these symptoms. Timely treatment greatly improves your odds of a successful outcome if you do have ovarian cancer.
Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the tissue that usually lines the uterus and waxes and wanes in accordance with the menstrual cycle, also populates other organs — including the ovaries. Though the uterine lining is expelled during menstruation, endometrial tissue in the ovaries may build up over time, causing damage and pain.
- Painful and heavy menstrual periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Possible infertility
Seeking medical attention can help ease your symptoms and preserve your fertility.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, PID, is caused by an infection that travels up through the reproductive tract. Though such infections are most commonly sexually transmitted, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea for instance, it may also be caused by infections acquired during surgery or childbirth.
PID is one of the more common causes of ovarian pain, and timely medical care reduces your risk of permanent damage. Symptoms, besides either intermittent or constant pelvic pain, are:
- A fever
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Irregular periods
- Changed and often foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Diarrhea and trouble urinating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling tired all the time
These are the most common, but not the only, conditions that cause ovarian pain. Some women also experience ovulation pain, a brief stinging pain, while they are ovulating. This pain occurs in the middle of your menstrual cycle, only on one side. Women who have had a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy to remove their fallopian tubes and ovaries, and who are experiencing pain in the area where the ovaries were, should seek medical care because there is a risk that some ovarian tissue was accidentally left behind.
The bottom line is that nobody should suffer in silence, without seeking medical care. Whether or not your pain originates within your ovaries, seeing a doctor is the right thing to do in this situation.
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