Ovary Pain and Lower Pelvic Pain – 13 Possible Causes

Ovary Pain
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It is important for all women to know what is going on in their bodies, especially when it comes to our reproductive system. Usually, we take note of our menstrual cycles, regularly check our breasts for lumps, and make regular checkups with our obstetrician/gynecologist. One thing that we should never ignore is ovary pain.

There are a number of different health conditions that can cause ovary pain and, therefore, it is important to always have the cause of pain checked out.

In this article, I’m going to look at the various reasons why many women experience ovarian pain and whether it’s something to worry about.

The Ovaries – Introduction

Our ovaries play an important role in our reproductive system. They are responsible for the release of many hormones, including estrogen, and every month they release an egg which is intended for fertilization.

The ovaries are located in the pelvic area of the body at the opposite sides of the uterus. So, if you have ovary pain, you will feel this in the area below your belly button and between your hips.

Possible Causes of Ovary Pain

Ovarian pain can affect women in different ways and it has many possible causes. The pain can be acute or chronic.

Acute ovary pain can happen quickly and then go away, sometimes in a few minutes, or sometimes after a few days.

Chronic pain in the pelvic lasts longer than 6 months. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that chronic pelvic pain can come and go or be constant. It can also follow a regular pattern, for example, during your period, or after eating, when urinating, or during intercourse.1

Chronic pain in the ovaries can range from being very mild to very severe, affecting your daily activities.

In order to find the cause of the pain, your doctor will carry out various checks which could include:

  • A physical exam
  • An ultrasound check
  • Taking blood and/or urine tests
  • Referring you to your obstetrician or gynecologist

Let’s have a look at the possible causes of ovary pain.

Ovarian Cysts

There are a number of ovarian cysts that can cause ovarian pain and discomfort in the pelvic area as well as irregular periods. Basically, an ovarian cyst is a small sac in your ovaries that swells with fluid.

The most common type of ovarian cysts is called a functional ovarian cyst. Dr. Sarah Marshall from WebMD says that these ovarian cysts develop when the remains of the small egg sac aren’t dissolved and continue to fill with fluid. Or, they can develop when the sac doesn’t release the egg and it fills with fluid.2 Most ovarian cysts go away by themselves. However, some continue to grow and fill with fluid. The cyst can cause pain when it ruptures.

Dr. Sarah Marshall recommends seeing a doctor if you have started to experience painful periods in the last 3 to 6 months or if your periods have become more infrequent. Also, see your doctor if your pain interferes with your daily activities or during intercourse.3

Other types of ovarian cysts are:

  • Endometriomas cysts
  • Dermoid cysts
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Cystadenoma cysts

For more information on the different types of ovarian cysts, their warning signs and risk factors, please read my article on ovarian cysts – warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.

Ovarian Tumors

One important reason to visit your doctor if you have ovary pain is to rule out the possibility of tumors. Of course, just because you have pain doesn’t mean that there is anything sinister going on. However, there are early signs that you can look for.

Dr. William Hamilton, senior lecturer at the University of Bristol, published a report into the early signs of ovarian cancer. He identified 3 early warning signs common in many women who were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. These were – abdominal pain, abdominal distension (a progressive increase in stomach size), and frequent urination.4 It was also noted that these symptoms developed over a 3 to 4 week period.

In cases of ovarian cancer, early detection greatly increases the survival rate to over 70%.

You can find a detailed information about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, including risk factors in my article about the 8 early warning signs of ovarian cancer you shouldn’t ignore.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause severe pain in the pelvic area which feels like ovarian pain. It occurs when the tissue that usually lines your uterus starts to grow outside of it, such as on the ovaries, bladder, intestines, or other parts of the body. When the endometrial tissue forms in the ovaries it can cause cysts to form. It can also cause severe pain during your period.

The Mayo Clinic reports that some of the symptoms of endometriosis are severe cramps a few days before, and continuing, into your period. This could be accompanied by excessive bleeding and bleeding between periods.5

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs when the reproductive organs become infected. Dr. Robert Brunham in the New England Journal of Medicine describes PID as a major concern because it can result in long-term reproductive disability.6 It is the main preventable cause of infertility in women.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a usually a complication of a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea and/or chlamydia. In severe cases, the infection can lead to abscesses requiring the person to be hospitalized.

Dr. Nivin Todd states on WebMD that the symptoms of PID can include a dull pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area, abnormal vaginal discharge, painful urination, fever, and nausea.7 PID is also one of the causes of cramps without period.

Ovarian Remnant Syndrome

Ovarian remnant syndrome is a rare condition which can affect some women who have had an oophorectomy. An oophorectomy is where one or both of the ovaries are removed. The condition develops when part of the ovary is mistakenly left behind after surgery and the ovary develops painful cysts.

As well as causing the abdominal pain that is associated with ovarian cysts, Dr. Kecia Gaither from WebMD says that this condition can cause pain during intercourse and difficulty urinating.8

Mittelschmerz

Some women experience lower abdominal pain during their period when ovulation occurs. This is called mittelschmerz (a German word meaning “middle pain”). It is sometimes referred to as “ovulation pain” or “mid-cycle pain.”

Specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, say that the ovarian pain associated with mittelschmerz can range anywhere between dull to a very sharp and can last from a few minutes to a few hours.9 They recommend that women track their menstrual cycle to see exactly when the pain happens. You should mention your findings to your gynecologist during your next visit.

Other Causes of Lower Pelvic Pain

In some cases ovary pain might be confused with lower pelvic pain. Let’s have a look at some other reasons why you can suffer from lower pelvic pain which is not connected with the ovaries.

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids is a condition that affects around three-quarters of all American women. Fibroids are growths that are generally benign and that can develop inside the muscle of the uterus. Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, you could experience various symptoms including pelvic discomfort or pain.

To learn more about uterine fibroids, please read my article about 7 warning signs you have uterine fibroids.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause varying degrees of pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen region. Usually, the pain is associated with bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation.

If you suffer from IBS, read my article about the best herbs and natural treatments to relieve IBS.

Appendicitis

Appendicitis can cause a dull pain near the belly button which gradually gets sharper towards the lower right abdomen. This is usually accompanied by a high fever, nausea, abdominal swelling and loss of appetite.

It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you suspect appendicitis as the appendix can burst causing serious complications.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint is the bone at the very base of the spine. The main function of it is to act as a shock absorber for the body. If there is dysfunction in the joint where there is too much movement you can experience pain in the groin and pelvic area. This usually occurs after some type of injury.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus and begins to grow. This usually happens in the fallopian tubes which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. In some cases, however, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the abdominal cavity, ovary or the cervix.

The first warning signs are often light vaginal bleeding with pelvic or abdominal pain. Later on, the symptoms can include severe pelvic pain or cramps (usually on one side of the pelvic), vaginal bleeding, nausea and dizziness.

It is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you suspect ectopic pregnancy as it is a life threatening condition.

It is worth noting that ectopic pregnancy is one of the causes of lower left abdominal pain.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system, but most types of UTI involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.

One of the symptoms of UTI is discomfort in the pelvis. You can read more about the symptoms of UTI and how to naturally treat it in my article on how to treat urinary tract infection (UTI) naturally.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can cause, among other symptoms, pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin. Read more about kidney stones in my articles on how to use apple cider vinegar (ACV) for kidney stones and the best natural ways to treat kidney stones.

As you can see, there are many different causes of ovary pain, and in some cases the pain is originated from the lower pelvic rather than the ovary itself. Some of these conditions are more serious than others. But if you are not sure of the cause of the pain, or the pain keeps coming back or if the pain is severe, you should see a doctor.

Read my other related articles:
1. Ovarian Cysts – Warning Signs You Should Not Ignore
2. 8 Early Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
3. Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
4. 7 Warning Signs You May Have Uterine Fibroids
5. Natural Remedies for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Resources:
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