- Women's Health
Pain in Ovaries
Ovaries play two very crucial roles in a woman’s life. The first is that of producing and releasing eggs (ova), which when fertilized; produce life. The second is that of producing hormones that are necessary for the development of a woman’s uterus in preparation for the life that is to be created within. Sometimes, the ovaries develop cysts and tumors, which can result in pain. The ache manifests as a dull or sharp pain that occurs in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. Ovarian pain can either be acute or chronic.
Acute pain in the ovaries is very sharp and occurs for a matter of minutes or a few days. It is very sudden, and also disappears as quickly as it came. The onset of chronic pain in the ovaries is very slow and can take few months to reach its apex. In both cases, the pain may be intermittent, or it may be continuous. The intensity of the pain also varies from one person to another. At times it may be very dull, and hardly noticeable, and at other times it can be acute to the point of interfering with normal daily activities. The pain is also noticeable when doing certain physiological activities such as urinating or exercising. Any pain in the lower abdomen should not be ignored and will require immediate medical attention.
What are the symptoms of pain in the ovaries?
The cysts in the ovaries can form because the follicle does not dissolve after an ovary is released, or when an egg is developed and the follicle fails to release it. The cysts, fluid filled sacs; form during ovulation and not at any other time. Usually, these cysts do not cause pain, but even if one of them ruptures, grows bigger, or changes orientation, the individual will feel a sharp or dull pain. Apart from the pain, the other symptoms of cysts in the ovaries are:
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Pain During bowel movements or intercourse
- Dull pain after eating
- Irregular menstrual cycles
What is the diagnosis of pain in the uterus?
The doctor will begin by asking you some questions such as:
- What is the location of the pain?
- What is the intensity of the pain?
- How often does the pain manifest?
- How does the pain affect your life?
- Does eating, emptying the bowels or intercourse make the pain worse?
The doctor will then perform a pelvic examination to see if there is a lump growing there. He may also ask for an ultrasound, which will give an image of the cysts. To be on the safe side, the doctor may also ask for a blood test to see if there is the presence of the CA125 protein, which may indicate that the cysts may be cancerous, so that he or she can rule out tumors.
What is the treatment for pain in the uterus?
For ovarian cysts
- The doctor may advise you to go on a regimen of birth control pills. Since the pills prevent ovulation, then they will reduce the number of cysts that form, thereby relieving the pain.
- If through imaging, the doctor sees that the cysts are small, he may perform laparoscopy. In this type of surgery, the doctor makes a small incision in the abdomen, and then inserts tools that have a lighted camera at the end. Using these tools, the doctor will be able to remove the small cysts.
- Once again, if the ultrasound images show large cysts exist, the surgeon will make a larger incision, in order to remove them. This procedure is known as a laparotomy.
- The doctor may also decide to ignore the cysts since most of them disappear on their own. You have to consult on a regular basis to see if they are disappearing or not.
For Ovarian Tumors
- Radiotherapy – The tumors are shrunk using high energy X-rays. The process can be done by doing the irradiation inside the body, near the tumor, or from outside the body. This therapy has side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue, inflammation of the skin or nausea.
- Chemotherapy – These are drugs that are given intravenously or orally with chemicals which kill the cancerous cells. This treatment causes hair loss, kidney damage and nausea.
- Laparotomy – A large incision is made in the stomach and tissues in the area are removed. This may include the uterus, ovaries and surrounding fatty tissue. This is called debulking, and may involve the removal of a lot of tissue depending on the extent of the spread of the cancer.
What are the other causes of pain in the ovaries?
During ovulation, there is a marked growth of the lining of the uterus, in preparation for nourishing a fertilized egg. However, if fertilization does not occur, the egg and the lining are shed out of the uterus. The lining of the uterus can form in other parts of the reproductive system, such as on, and around the ovaries. The tissue bleeds every month and since it cannot be lost through menstruation, it forms scar tissue, which causes the pain. This condition is known as Endometriosis. This condition is characterized by painful intercourse, heavy menstruation, infertility, and painful periods. Ultrasound scans will reveal the growth of the scar tissue, and it is treated through laparoscopy, laparotomy, pain medication, birth control pills and Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists.