Although the ovaries are not usually discernable, many women experience pain or discomfort in the area intermittently.
The ovaries are female reproductive organs situated on either side of the lower pelvis. The glands play a vital role in reproduction, the menstrual cycle and the development of sexual characteristics in women.
The ovaries are located in the lower abdomen, meaning that if you have ovarian pain, you’ll most likely feel it in your lower abdomen (below your belly button) and pelvis. Numerous different conditions can cause ovarian pain, but these are some of the most common:
Most women do not feel themselves ovulating, but some women feel severe discomfort. Ovulation is the process in which an egg is released from the ovary. Ovulation pain is also known as mittelschmerz, which is a combination of the German words for “pain” and “middle.” Mittelschmerz can occur on one or both sides of the body and can go hand in hand with nausea, bleeding or increased vaginal discharge. No treatment is necessary, but some women take birth control pills to prevent ovulation and the accompanying discomfort.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that spreads to the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. The bacteria causing PID is usually sexually transmitted, from infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia. Other women develop PID from an infection after childbirth, IUD insertion, miscarriage or abortion. PID needs antibiotics for treatment.
Ovarian torsion (also referred to as “adnexal torsion”) occurs when an ovary twists around its supporting tissues. In some cases, the fallopian tube may also become twisted. This painful condition cuts off blood supply to these organs. This makes ovarian torsion a medical emergency—if not treated quickly, you can lose an ovary. Torsion is more common in women with ovarian cysts, which can swell the ovaries.
Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of menstrual tissue outside of the uterus. This tissue can grow anywhere in the abdomen or pelvis, sometimes developing on the ovary. Just like the lining of the uterus, the tissue sheds during menstruation; but because the deposed material has no way to leave the body, it becomes caught inside. Endometriosis can cause internal bleeding, scar tissue, and severe abdominal or pelvic pain. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in an ovary or on its surface. The condition is common and in most cases will not cause symptoms; however, a large or ruptured cyst can cause a variety of symptoms—including pain, bloating, changes in menstrual periods, frequent urge to urinate, feeling full and general discomfort. Most cysts are benign, but in some cases, they can be cancerous. Check with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for any types of cysts.