Ovarian Cysts Can Have Misleading Symptoms

Ovarian cysts cause such a variety of unrelated symptoms that they can be missed even by doctors. I am not a doctor or medical professional, just an ordinary person who was surprised by a diagnosis of “ovarian cyst.”  

My symptoms were a pain in my right side, right where my appendix was. I had had some pain in that side right after exercising. The pain would disappear in a day or so, so naturally I thought  I had a pulled muscle.  It never occurred to me to see a doctor for pain that went away.

One of my friends told me, “I went to doctors faithfully and had all my exams every year. I went through cycles of painful bloating in my abdomen. The doctors told me it was nothing.  After ten years of this, I had an appendectomy. When the surgeon opened me up, he found a large benign cyst sitting on my ovary. They removed the cyst and I never had those symptoms again.” 

I read an account by another woman who was treated for two years for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Finally someone ordered an ultrasound and found a cyst the size of a grapefruit.

Many years ago, I worked with a young woman who was in constant pain and discomfort. Her digestive system was always acting up. Doctors couldn’t find anything. They (and everyone who knew her) figured she was a hypochondriac. Eventually she persuaded a surgeon to conduct an exploratory operation and there it was: a tiny ovarian cyst. Her whole personality changed after they removed it.  Today she would probably have an ultrasound exam and a laparoscopic operation to remove the cyst.

Most cysts are benign and many disappear or grow smaller on their own. However, a large or abnormal cyst can affect your health, sometimes seriously.   Therefore any cyst needs to be discussed with a licensed medical practitioner.

Many people have these three misconceptions about ovarian cysts. Of course, I am not a doctor and not offering medical advice. Talk to a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner to get information on your own specific situation.

First, ovarian cysts can create symptoms that mimic a digestive disorder. Stomach pain, bloating and all kinds of digestive problems can be associated with ovarian cysts.

Second, women of all ages get ovarian cysts. Causes of cysts will be different for post-menopausal women and doctors can get more concerned.  

Finally, the pain from ovarian cysts can come and go. Just because the pain stops or eases up doesn’t mean the cyst has gone or that you have nothing to worry about.