Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

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Ovarian cysts, which are fluid-filled growths that commonly form on the ovaries, don’t always come with symptoms. But when symptoms are present, they often include sharp pain, a dull ache, bloating, or pressure in the lower abdomen.

Other symptoms like pain during sexual intercourse and irregular menstrual periods can also occur. Sudden, severe pain might signify that the ovarian cyst has broken open (ruptured) or is twisted.

This article discusses ovarian cyst symptoms, complications, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Woman with ovarian cyst pain

Iordache Laurentiu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Frequent Symptoms

Often, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms at all. But when they do, many people report experiencing:

  • Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen that may be dull or sharp
  • Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
  • Irregular or unusually painful menstrual periods
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain during certain activities, such as sexual intercourse

Because some more common ovarian cyst symptoms can overlap with symptoms related to the menstrual cycle, they can sometimes go unnoticed.

Rare Symptoms

Most ovarian cysts are harmless and cause little to no discomfort. But in some instances, they can cause sudden, severely painful symptoms. This is more likely to happen when the ovarian cysts are:

  • Larger in size
  • Ruptured (broken open)
  • Twisted (torsion)
  • Bleeding or interfering with the ovary’s blood supply

Rare (or less-commonly reported) symptoms of an ovarian cyst can include:

If an ovarian cyst ruptures (breaks open), you may experience pain and bleeding. If the bleeding is particularly heavy, it's possible to experience additional related symptoms, including:

Complications/Subgroup Indications

Most ovarian cysts in menstruating people will not lead to complications. Any complications that do occur will vary based on the type and size of the cyst, which includes:

  • Rupture: When an ovarian cyst ruptures (or breaks open), severe pain and bleeding will often occur. The bleeding may require medical treatment (including surgery) if it is excessive.
  • Twist: When an ovarian cyst becomes twisted around the surrounding tissues, it can cut off the ovary's blood supply. This is called ovarian torsion and can result in severe pain. Immediate surgery is usually recommended to help preserve the ovary and the blood supply.
  • Develop into ovarian cancer: Most ovarian cysts in menstruating people are not cancerous. The risk for ovarian cancer rises after menopause, so it's important to get checked out by a healthcare provider if you're experiencing any signs of an ovarian cyst after you've stopped menstruating.

Ovarian cysts are common in people who ovulate, but they may be even more common in people with certain health conditions. Factors that can increase the risk of developing an ovarian cyst include:

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Most ovarian cysts are harmless. But it's still a good idea to monitor your symptoms and let a healthcare provider know if you think you might be experiencing an ovarian cyst to receive an official diagnosis and treatment if needed.

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice serious symptoms such as:

  • Severe pain
  • Abnormal or heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Losing weight unintentionally
  • Getting full quickly without eating

Those signs may indicate a ruptured cyst that needs treatment immediately or (in rare cases) ovarian cancer. 


Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled growths that commonly develop in or on the ovaries during the reproductive years. For many people, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms. But it's possible to experience symptoms such as menstrual irregularities or pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen.

It's important to contact a healthcare provider if you notice related symptoms that are severe or abnormal for you, as a ruptured or twisted ovarian cyst may require medical treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Ovarian cysts are typically harmless and often go away on their own. While it's rare, an ovarian cyst can rupture, twist, or become cancerous. Because there's currently no screening for ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for any symptoms that may be out of the norm.

If you have an ovarian cyst or have had one in the past, check with a healthcare provider about getting routine pelvic exams to stay on top of any future changes.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cristina Mutchler
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.