The ovaries are placed within the lower abdomen. They are located beneath the pelvis and your belly button. This organ is responsible for producing hormones like estrogen. In addition, the ovaries release eggs every month.
When you experience ovary pain, it may be due to a variety of reason. Because of where the ovaries are located, you may experience the pain in your lower abdomen and it may be ongoing or acute. Chronic pain lasts over an extended period of time, while acute period lasts from just a few hours to a couple of days. No matter what type of pain you are experiencing, it is important that you see your doctor. Your doctor or gynecologist can diagnose the cause of your pain and find a treatment for it.
What Are the Causes of Ovary Pain?
Mittelschmerz is a type of pain that occurs on just one side of your abdomen. Each month, you experience ovulation. This process involves a follicle in one of your ovaries rupturing and releasing an egg that can be later fertilized by sperm. When this follicle ruptures, it can suddenly cause pain. While not every woman experiences mittelschmerz, some women will experience every time they ovulate or just some of the time. When you experience this pain, it may be dull or sharp with a sudden or gradual onset. Often, it will last for just a few minutes or a couple of hours.
Mittelschmerz will often occur on a different side every month depending on which ovary released the egg. You can figure out if your pain is due to mittelschmerz by tracking your menstrual cycle. Normally, you ovulate about in the middle of your cycle. If this is when the pain occurs and it lasts for less than a few hours, then there is an excellent chance that this is the cause. In most cases, you can treat any pain caused by mittelschmerz with over-the-counter painkillers. The pain is generally not severe or long-lasting though, so it is often best to just wait out the pain and it will be over before you know it.
2. Ovarian Cysts
Many women experience ovarian cysts at some point in their lives, and these cysts are especially common if you currently take or have taken birth control. A cyst is basically a sac that fills with fluid that is located within the ovaries. It is created when an ovule is not released or for a couple of other reasons. Often, you will not even realize that you have ovarian cysts. In many cases, they will dissolve naturally without any treatment. If the cyst becomes twisted or ruptures, then it can lead to unbearable pain. Some women with ovarian cysts also have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can lead to another of other symptoms.
There are many types of infections that can cause ovarian pain. If you suddenly have pain that develops without a cause, it may be due to an infection. In some cases, this infection may be because of a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Left untreated, an bacterial infection or sexually transmitted disease can end up causing pelvic inflammatory disease. You may experience pain in the abdomen or around the ovaries. If the infection is near the ovaries, they may develop sores. You need to make sure to seek immediate treatment if you believe that you have an infection because untreated infections can ultimately lead to infertility.
4. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common cause of pain in the ovaries. It is a type of infection that is caused by any bacterial infection in the reproductive system. Common causes include gonorrhea or chlamydia. Once the infection starts, it can affect the ovaries, Fallopian tubes and uterus. All of these affected areas can cause pain. If you have pelvic inflammatory disease, you may experience pain during sexual intercourse, problems urinating, irregular menstrual cycles, a fever, a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, diarrhea, fatigue or vomiting.
Your uterus has a wall that thickens every month as it prepares for a fertilized egg to be implanted. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm, then the walls lining the uterus will dissolve and eventually leave the body when you menstruate. Sometimes, the thickened tissues does not thicken within the uterus. The tissues try to dissolve, but they are unable to leave the body. Before long, endometriosis can cause scar tissues that cause severe pain. Endometriosis can cause symptoms and side effects like infertility, lower abdominal pain, heavy menstruation, pain during sexual intercourse and increased pain during menstruation.
6. Ovarian Remnant Syndrome
When you have your uterus or ovaries surgically removed, it is called a hysterectomy or an oophorectomy. A salpingo oophorectomy is the term for when your Fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed. When this happens, the doctor may unintentionally leave behind a small piece of the ovaries. This piece can eventually start to grow and develop cysts. When this happens, it can cause you severe lower abdominal pain. Other symptoms of the condition include pain during sexual intercourse or problems urinating. Obviously, ovarian remnant syndrome is only going to be a possible cause of your pain if you have ever had your ovaries removed.
7. Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is a fairly common condition that encompasses three percent of female cancer cases. Statistically, most of the women diagnosed with this condition are 40 years of age or older. Genetics can increase the chances of having ovarian cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, then it is more likely that you will suffer from ovarian cancer.
One unfortunate problem with getting a diagnosis is that many of the symptoms are vague or could be caused by something else. While early detection is the best way to ensure that you become cancer-free and healthy again, it is hard to detect ovarian cancer early. You may not experience any symptoms for years. If you have symptoms, they may be loss of appetite, a swollen abdomen, increased need to urinate, bloating, frequent urination, feeling full quickly, diarrhea, constipation and pain in your lower abdominal area. If you have some of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, you need to go to your doctor to make sure that ovarian cancer is not the cause.
Other Potential Causes
While the previous conditions are the most common causes of ovary pain, you could be suffering from another medical condition as well. Kidney problems are a common cause since the kidneys are located near the ovaries. Other causes of pain in your lower abdomen include an infection in the gall bladder, kidney stones, constipation, appendicitis, a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection.