Ovary Pain - Symptoms and Causes
Taking care of your health is an important step to living a long, happy life. That includes visiting your healthcare provider to check out any errant pain or discomfort, even if you aren’t sure if it is abnormal. It is common to feel some pain around or during the menstrual cycle every month, for example, but that discomfort isn’t necessarily normal if it happens at other times.
One of the most common causes of ovary pain is ovarian cysts. These fluid-filled sacs can grow either on or within an ovary (or ovaries) and can sometimes be painful. It is normal to experience ovarian cysts sometimes, but if they are excessively painful or you find that the discomfort becomes normal rather than a rare occurrence, it might be time to reach out to your doctor.
What are ovarian cysts?
As mentioned briefly above, ovarian cysts usually consist of fluid-filled sacs that grow either on the surface of your ovary or, somewhat more rarely, within them. Under normal conditions, these cysts don’t draw attention to themselves and heal on their own. Sometimes, however, ovarian cysts can become painful and even result in potential health risks if left untreated.
Ovarian cysts cause a variety of pain. If you find that intercourse is painful, for example, you might be experiencing a larger ovarian cyst. The same can be said of pain in your lower thighs and lower back, pelvic pain during and before the menstrual cycle, tender breasts, and vomiting and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to reach out to a professional for an evaluation, if only for your peace of mind. It is entirely possible that you have a harmless cyst, but if the issue is more dire, it’s better to discover the problem sooner rather than later.
Note that ovarian cysts can cause both left ovary pain and right ovary pain separately or at the same time. Don’t write off pain or discomfort because only one of your ovaries hurts, in other words, because both ovaries aren’t always affected by cysts.
Types of Cysts
There are a few different kinds of ovarian cysts. Follicular cysts develop around the middle of your menstrual cycle when a follicle fails to release an egg or rupture, instead continuing to grow. Corpus luteum cysts develop when a follicle begins releasing progesterone and estrogen for birth at the same time it releases an egg. This can lead to an accumulation in fluid in the follicle itself, often resulting in a cyst.
The above cysts are known as functional cysts, and they are generally harmless and painless (although there are always exceptions). Other kinds of cysts, however, including cystadenomas, dermoid cysts, and endometriomas, can be cause for a bit more concern. Dermoid cysts can grow large enough to displace your ovary, for example, which can cause significant discomfort and
potentially even ovarian torsion, something that happens when your ovary is twisted within your body. This can stop or decrease blood floor to your ovary, causing a variety of problems.
It should be noted that you cannot prevent ovarian cysts from forming, but you can control how quickly they are identified and diagnosed. Don’t ignore pelvic pain – treat it as the warning sign it is and see your healthcare provider.
Other Causes of Pelvic Pain
Ovarian cysts aren’t the only issue that can leave you wondering “why do I have pain in my left ovary?” Ovary pain during periods, for example, is likely due to dysmenorrhea, the uterine muscle contraction common during the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis, a condition where uterine endometrial cells develop outside of the uterus, is another potential cause of ovary pain. Finally, an ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that happens outside of your uterus, generally in your fallopian tubes – can lead to severe pain and necessitates immediate medical care.
When should I see a doctor?
If you are struggling with pelvic pain or ovary pain, or any of the other symptoms described above, you should see an OBGYN. It might seem like a bit of an overreaction if the pain isn’t severe, but you want to catch any potential issues as early as possible to prevent severe pain as much as possible. Don’t ignore discomfort – see your healthcare provider as soon as possible
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