Ovarian cysts are small, noncancerous, fluid-filled sacs that can occur in women who have regular periods. They’re a nuisance for many women, often causing bothersome symptoms like periodic bloating and abdominal discomfort. In some cases, ovarian cysts can trigger dull and aching lower back pain.
Why do ovarian cysts develop?
There are several types of ovarian cysts. Most occur as a result of a woman’s normal menstrual cycle, when ovarian follicles continue to grow instead of releasing eggs during ovulation. Factors that may leave a woman at an increased risk of ovarian cysts include being pregnant and having endometriosis or hormonal problems that impact ovulation.
The good news is that most ovarian cysts go away on their own. In fact, many ovarian cysts come and go without causing any noticeable symptoms. In symptomatic cases, self-care measures like using a heating pad to soothe lower back pain and taking a relaxing Epsom salt bath can help relieve any discomfort.
When to see a doctor
It’s always a good idea to speak with a doctor if you are experiencing any new or unusual symptoms that concern you. If your lower back pain is making it tough to perform everyday activities, a visit to your doctor’s office may be in order. You should consider consulting a gynecologist if you are experiencing other symptoms of ovarian cysts, which may include:
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Pelvic pain
- Dull aching in your thighs
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Painful sex
- Frequent urination
If you feel sudden and severe pelvic pain or if your symptoms are accompanied by fever, nausea or vomiting, an ovarian cyst may have ruptured or twisted an ovary. Be sure to seek immediate care in these instances.
Medically reviewed by Jing-Yi Chern, MD, ScM, gynecologic oncologist
Although it is relatively uncommon, ovarian cysts may lead to ovarian cancer, particularly in women who have already gone through menopause. If you are experiencing the symptoms of an ovarian cyst and would like to speak with an ovarian cancer specialist, contact Moffitt Cancer Center. You can reserve an appointment without a referral by completing a new patient registration form online or by calling 1-888-663-3488. Virtual visits may be available, depending on the appointment.