Ovary pain? Understanding ovarian cysts
By Intermountain Healthcare
Feb 8, 2018
Updated Oct 25, 2023
5 min read
Most women will have an ovarian cyst sometime during their life. In fact, it’s possible you’ll get a cyst on a monthly basis, but never have any symptoms. Ovarian cysts are usually harmless and occur most often in menstruating women. In most cases, they go away on their own. However, if you have persistent symptoms or you’re getting older, an ovarian cyst warrants follow-up. Talking to your doctor about your symptoms will allow you to get the testing and help you need.
Most ovarian cysts don’t have any symptoms. That being said, if you have a larger ovarian cyst you may notice the following symptoms:
Not all ovarian cysts are the same. Your cyst might function or even look different, depending on how it was formed.
Most follicular cysts will go away on their own within three months. During ovulation, one of your ovaries will release an egg from a tiny sac called a follicle. A cyst can happen if the follicle grows an egg, but doesn’t release it for ovulation. This type of cyst can also happen if a mature follicle collapses on itself. These types of cysts grow up to 2-3 inches in diameter. You probably won’t experience pain with a follicular cyst, but if you do it can cause a sharp, severe pain on the side of your ovary when it ruptures.
After your ovary releases an egg during ovulation, the empty follicle the egg was released from typically shrinks back down. However, sometimes a follicle will close and start to collect fluid inside. This fluid-filled follicle is called a corpus luteum cyst. In most cases, these types of cysts are only found on one ovary at a time and produce few to no symptoms. In some cases, a corpus luteum cyst will bleed or cause pain.
A nonfunctional cyst can grow on your ovaries whether or not you’re ovulating. These types of cysts might be one of the following:
Although it’s difficult to predict when or if you’ll develop an ovarian cyst, certain factors put you at risk. They include:
Your doctor may be able to detect the presence of an ovarian cyst — if it’s large enough— during a pelvic exam. When an ovarian cyst is suspected, your doctor will likely order a transvaginal ultrasound and/or some blood work. These tests will allow your doctor to confirm the presence and characteristics of an ovarian cyst.
The good thing about most ovarian cysts is that they typically go away on their own. When you have an ovarian cyst, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:
Although most ovarian cysts go away on their own, you should see your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms:
These symptoms could mean your ovary has twisted because of an ovarian cyst.