If you have an ovarian cyst and are experiencing back pains, you could be wondering, “can ovarian cyst cause back pain?”

See also Top 17 Best Foods for Fertility and Top 9 Common Causes of Secondary Infertility.

An ovarian cyst is a common gynecological condition affecting many women across the globe. In fact, research shows that 10 out of 100 women have ovarian cysts.

And even though it shows no symptoms in most cases and can resolve on its own, some cases can lead to various uncomfortable symptoms.

In this article, we shall be going through these symptoms and whether or not back pain is one of them. 

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

An ovarian cyst is a sac filled with fluid or semi-solid material that often forms in or on the ovaries. 

It can affect one or both ovaries. Ovaries are a pair of small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of your lower abdomen. One on the right and one on the left. They are important for holding the female egg cells and the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cysts can vary in size, shape, and composition and are often classified into different types based on their characteristics and origin.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

Functional cysts

Also known as simple cysts, functional cysts are the most common. 

They are not associated with any ailment and instead occur as a result of ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary), which signifies healthy ovarian function. 

Typically, these cysts shrink naturally within about 60 days, often requiring no specific treatment.

Functional cysts can be classified into two:

  • Follicular cyst: Follicles are tiny fluid-filled sacs inside the ovaries where eggs grow. During ovulation, the follicle opens up to release a mature egg, preparing it for fertilization. However, in the case of follicular cysts, this process does not occur, and instead of releasing an egg, the follicle becomes filled with fluid and enlarges in size.
  • Corpus luteum cysts: Corpus luteum is a mass of hormone-producing cells that form in the ovary after the follicle releases an egg. If pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum produces the hormone progesterone to support early pregnancy (7-9 weeks). By the 10th week, the corpus luteum begins to shrink as the placenta takes over progesterone production. Whether pregnancy occurs or not, in some cases, fluid gets trapped in the corpus luteum, causing a cyst to develop. 

Additional Types

Besides menstrual-related cysts, other forms also exist, including:

  • Ovarian dermoid cyst (mature teratomas):These contain various types of tissues in the human body, including hair, teeth, skin, and even neural tissue. While typically benign, they may need to be removed if they cause symptoms.
  • Cystadenomas: These cysts develop from the surface of the ovary. They can be filled with either a watery (serous) or mucous-like (mucinous) substance. While generally benign, they can grow large and cause abdominal discomfort.
  • Endometriomas: These are filled with endometrial tissue, the same tissue lining the uterus that bleeds every month. Endometriomas are filled with dark brown endometrial fluid and are sometimes referred to as “chocolate cysts.”
woman with abdominal pain holds the anatomical model of uterus and ovaries with pathology.

unrecognizing woman with abdominal pain holds the anatomical model of uterus and ovaries with pathology. diseases uterus and ovaries, endometriosis, ovarian cysts

Causes of Ovarian Cysts

The development of ovarian cysts can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Hormonal Imbalances: An imbalance between estrogen and progesterone hormones can affect the signaling pathway that tells your ovary to release an egg. This can leave the follicle closed and more likely to form a cyst.
  • Follicle Abnormalities: As mentioned earlier, the follicle contains fluid that protects the egg as it grows and ruptures to release the egg once it is matured. Cysts can occur when follicles don’t mature properly or fail to rupture during a menstrual cycle.
  • Endometriosis: Endometrial tissue outside the uterus can lead to the development of endometriomas.
  • Pregnancy: In some cases, cysts can form as a result of a pregnancy-related condition called a corpus luteum cyst.
  • Iatrogenic (Medical) Causes: Certain fertility medications and procedures, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), can increase the risk of cyst formation.

Risk Factors of Ovarian Cyst

Several risk factors can make some women more susceptible to ovarian cysts, including:

  • Age: Women of reproductive age, particularly those in their 30s and 40s, are more likely to develop ovarian cysts.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, and hormonal disorders can increase the risk.
  • Endometriosis: Again, women with endometriosis are at a higher risk of developing endometriomas.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a condition characterized by multiple small cysts on the ovaries, often caused by altered hormone levels.
  • Previous History: Women with a history of ovarian cysts are more likely to experience recurrent cysts.

Common Symptoms

Research shows that most ovarian cysts have no obvious symptoms; however, if it continues to grow, one may experience various unpleasant symptoms depending on whether the cyst is ruptured or not.

Unruptured

  • Painful bowel movements
  • Bloating and abdominal swelling
  • Painful intercourse
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pelvic pain before or during menstruation
  • Nausea and vomiting

Ruptured

While ruptured ovarian cysts are rare, they can occur. Symptoms may include:

  • Severe or sharp pelvic pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Dizziness or faintness

Can Ovarian Cyst Cause Back Pain?

Yes, in addition to the above symptoms, ovarian cysts can cause dull, aching back pain, specifically lower back pain.

However, it is important to note that not all cases of back pain are due to ovarian cysts. There are numerous causes of back pain, and ovarian cyst is just a fraction of it.

To help you distinguish between ovarian cyst-related back pain and other causes of back pain, I’ll provide you with a summarized table of comparison, so keep reading to earn more. Let’s look at how ovarian cyst cause back pain.

How Can Ovarian Cyst Cause Back Pain?

Ovarian cysts can cause back pain through different mechanisms, and the extent and nature of the pain can vary from person to person.

Common ways through which ovarian cysts can cause back pain include:

1. Pressure on the nerves

Nerves are specialized cells that send electric signals, enabling you to feel sensations and move your muscles.

When ovarian cysts grow large, they can exert pressure on nearby structures, including nerves in the back, leading to lower back pain often radiating to the thighs. This can be likened to what occurs when a herniated disk presses on the spinal nerve. 

2. Rupture or torsion

Another name for torsion is twist. In some cases, ovarian cysts may grow bigger and rupture or twist, both of which may result in lower back pain. Intermittent non-radiating pain in the abdomen and lower back may be a sign of torsion, while a sudden sharp lower back pain is often associated with rupture. 

Both ruptured and twisted ovarian cysts are considered gynecological emergencies.

3. Stretching of ovarian ligaments

Ovarian ligaments, or the suspensory ligament of the ovary, are a set of supportive structures that help anchor and stabilize the ovaries within the pelvic cavity.

When ovarian cysts are big enough, or when there are multiple cysts, the ligaments can be strained or stretched, causing tension and subsequent symptoms like back pain and abdominal pain.

Yes, Ovarian Cyst Cause Back Pain. Let’s look at other possible causes of back pain.

Other Possible Causes of Back Pain.

Back pain can result from numerous other factors rather than ovarian cysts, including:

  • Muscle Strain: Overuse, poor posture, or lifting heavy objects can strain the muscles and liga possibles causes  ments in the back, leading to pain.
  • Herniated Disc: A herniated or slipped disc occurs when the soft inner core of an in tervertebral disc protrudes or ruptures through the outer layer, pressing on nearby nerves and causing pain.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: As we age, the discs in the spine can wear down, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Spinal Stenosis: This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain, tingling, and weakness.g in sharp, shooting pain that radiates down one leg.
  • Osteoarthritis: Degenerative joint disease can affect the spine and cause pain, particularly in the lower back.
  • Scoliosis: An abnormal curvature of the spine can lead to pain, especially when the condition is severe. This is especially common in older people.
  • Sciatica: This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, often resultin
  • Infections: Infections in the spine, such as spinal abscesses or discitis, can cause severe back pain.
  • Fractures: A vertebral fracture, typically due to trauma or osteoporosis, can result in significant back pain.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: This is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and can lead to chronic pain and stiffness.
  • Kidney Stones: Pain from kidney stones can radiate to the lower back and mimic back pain.
  • Cancer: Tumors in the spine or nearby structures can cause back pain. This is often associated with other symptoms.

How to Diagnose and Treat Ovarian Cysts

In most cases, ovarian cysts will go away on their own, while in some cases, treatment may be paramount.

Diagnosing and treating ovarian cysts typically involves a combination of medical evaluation, imaging, and treatment options, including medications and, in some cases, surgery. 

Ovarian Cyst-Related Back Pain vs. Other Causes of Back Pain

Pain Characteristics Ovarian Cyst-Related Back Pain Other Forms of Back Pain
Pain Location Lower back, often on one side Can be in various regions of the back
Onset Gradual or sudden (rupture) Gradual or sudden depending on the cause
Nature of Pain Dull, aching, or sharp (rupture) Varies (dull, sharp, burning, etc.)
Triggers May worsen during menstruation Can be triggered by various factors
Associated symptoms Abdominal pain, changes in menstruation Varies (tingling, numbness, etc.) depending on the specific cause
Emergency cases Rupture or torsion is an emergency Some cases (trauma, spinal injury)
Diagnosis Imaging (ultrasound, MRI) Medical history, physical examination, imaging
Treatment Observation, medication, or surgery Varies (physical therapy, medication, surgery)
Search disease, abnormalities or pathology of ovary concept photo. Doctor holding magnifying glass and examines model of ovaries, conducting diagnostics for disease like cancer, apoplexy, cyst, POS

Search disease, abnormalities or pathology of ovary concept photo. Doctor holding magnifying glass and examines model of ovaries, conducting diagnostics for disease like cancer, apoplexy, cyst, POS

Tips for Managing Back Pain from Ovarian Cysts

Managing back pain associated with ovarian cysts can be challenging, but several strategies and tips can help alleviate discomfort and improve your quality of life. 

It’s important to note that these tips only apply to mild-moderate pain. For severe or persistent pain, or if you suspect complications, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Here are some tips for managing back pain from ovarian cysts:

  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: Non-prescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help reduce pain and inflammation. 
  • Heat Therapy: Applying a warm compress or heating pad to the affected area can help relax tense muscles and provide relief from pain.
  • Gentle stretches: Gentle stretching can help alleviate back pain and promote overall comfort. Consult a healthcare provider or physical therapist for specific exercises tailored to your condition.
  • Pillows for Support: Use a pillow or cushion to support your lower back while sitting or lying down. This can help reduce strain on your back muscles.
  • Dietary Modifications: Some women find relief from ovarian cyst-related pain by adjusting their diet. Reducing foods that may contribute to bloating and inflammation, such as caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, can help.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Incorporating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, like leafy greens and fresh fruits, may help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Prescribed Medications: Sometimes, healthcare providers may prescribe stronger pain medications or hormonal treatments (e.g., birth control pills) to manage ovarian cyst-related pain.
  • Regular Check-Ups: In addition to the above tips, continue to see your healthcare provider for regular check-ups and follow their recommendations for monitoring and managing ovarian cysts.

What are the Complications of Ovarian Cyst?

There are three classic complications of ovarian cysts that commonly present to the emergency department:

  • Rupture
  • Hemorrhage
  • Torsion

When to Seek Medical Attention

It’s always important to be aware of when to seek medical attention for an ovarian cyst. 

While many ovarian cysts are harmless and resolve on their own, some can cause complications or indicate underlying health issues. 

Here are situations in which you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Severe or Sudden Pain
  • Fever and Chills
  • Heavy or Prolonged Vaginal Bleeding
  • Pain or Discomfort During Sexual Intercourse
  • Persistent or Worsening Symptoms
  • Changes in Menstrual Cycle
  • Difficulty Breathing or Dizziness
  • Infertility Concerns

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Final Thoughts

While ovarian cysts are common in women and often do not cause noticeable symptoms, they can sometimes lead to back pain. 

However, it is important to note that back pain alone is not a definitive sign of an ovarian cyst. 

It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional if experiencing persistent or severe back pain for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

Early detection and timely intervention can help manage the underlying condition effectively, ensuring optimal health and well-being.

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