Symptoms of ovarian cysts
Most ovarian cysts are small, benign (harmless) and do not produce any symptoms.
Symptoms of large cysts
Large cysts may cause problems, so it is important to speak to your GP if you notice any of the following:
Pain and discomfort in your abdomen. This may come and go, but it may last for long periods of time. Some women notice it more after sex.
Bloating or swelling in your abdomen.
Changes to your periods. They may become irregular, painful, heavier or lighter than normal.
Needing to go to the toilet more often. Depending on where the cyst is and its size, it may put pressure on the bladder or bowels. It may also cause pain during bowel movements.
Changes in the way your breasts and body hair grow. In rare cases, ovarian cysts can cause abnormal amounts of hormones to be produced, which can speed up or change the way your breasts and body hair grow.
Some medical conditions may cause additional symptoms:
If you have endometriosis (where cells that line the womb are found in other parts of the body), you may also have pelvic pain and low backache.
If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (multiple cysts in the ovaries) you may also experience weight gain and acne.
For more information, see Useful links.
Symptoms of complicated cysts
Sometimes, ovarian cysts cause more serious problems, which are outlined below. These types of cyst will need hospital treatment (see Treatment, above).
If a cyst is growing on a stem from an ovary, the stem can become twisted (called torsion). This stops the blood supply to the cyst and causes a lot of pain in the lower abdomen.
The cyst may burst, causing sudden severe pain in the lower abdomen. The pain you feel depends on what the cyst contained, whether it is infected and whether there is any bleeding.
Very occasionally, an ovarian cyst is an early form of ovarian cancer. However, ovarian cysts are very common and about 95% are non-cancerous.