The female body has various essential parts, which are very much important for the proper functioning of the body. One of the primary functions of the female body is the reproductive system. Within this concept, probably the most important part of the female body is the ovaries.
There are mainly two relevant jobs that are done by the ovaries in the female body. There are various types of hormones that are produced in the body. In a female, the hormonal distribution is more or less changed every month as the menstrual cycle kicks incorrectly. There are also hormones present, which contributes to the menstruation in the female body. One such hormone is estrogen, which is a significant hormone in the body as well. The ovaries mainly produce the hormone estrogen. Thus, the ovaries directly contribute to the occurrence of menstruation in females. Additionally, the ovaries also provide the release of an egg per month, which may or may not be fertilized, depending upon the situation. Thus, the reproductive capability of the female body is also possible due to ovaries.
Now, some of the most common questions asked by women when surveyed worldwide are why do I have pain in my left ovary? Or why do I feel a pain in my ovaries at times? Is it something I should be concerned about? Or is it merely another normal body process?
There are a lot of different conditions which can cause pain in ovaries. The most common causes of ovarian pain at present are due to ovarian cysts. In worst-case conditions, even ovarian tumors can be diagnosed. Apart from these two conditions, there are various other severe medical conditions as well, which can give rise to ovarian pain. In the female human body, the location of the ovaries is mainly towards the lower part of the abdomen. This means that in case you are experiencing ovarian pain, you are most likely to feel the pain in the lower abdominal region. The place below the navel or belly button and the pelvis region is where a woman is most likely to feel the ovarian pain.
As stated before, there can be various causes for the pain, some of which can be very serious as well. If ignored, some cases may be fatal for a woman. Therefore, it is always recommended to check out such pains as fast as possible by a gynecologist or a regular doctor. That way, you can know for sure the cause of it.
In most cases, women have said that there have been different types of ovarian pains felt. With records, two types of ovarian pains have been known to affect women as of present. Most women face ovarian pain, which is acute. This acute ovarian pain is known to come on pretty quick and does not last long usually. The average period of acute ovarian pain can vary from a few minutes to a few days. Other women have faced chronic ovarian pain. In this case, the pain takes time to spread completely. However, the pain stays for a long time, even lasting for a few months in some cases.
In many cases, women have found ovarian pain to occur continuously. Others have found out the pain occurs all of a sudden, and then it stops by itself. Even exercises, movements, and urination can sometimes trigger the cause of ovarian pain. Sometimes the pain is of such mild nature that you may not even notice it. As for others, intense ovarian pain may be experienced. Such conditions can cause considerable disruptions in the day to day activities of a person.
Since the causes of ovarian pain are vastly different, doctors can use various types of tests and methods to be able to diagnose the proper reason. The doctors are experienced, and upon reading your entire medical history, they might be able to narrow down the exact causes as well. Priority may be given to the tests, which can identify the cause of the ovarian pain as suspected by the doctors. In all cases, though, doctors will accurately determine the case with thorough examination and tests. There are various types of questions asked to the patients to get more details about the causes of the ovarian pain. Some of the common questions are-
- Precisely in which part of the body is the pain felt?
- When was the starting time of the ovarian pain?
- What is the frequency of the pain experienced, or how often does the pain come?
- Is the pain affected by doing any regular activity such as walking, moving, or stretching? If so, does the pain get worse than before? Or does it get better?
- What is the sensation felt during the ovarian pain? Is it sharp, achy, mild, or gives a burning sensation?
- Is the pain affecting daily life activities?
At present, there are various types of imaging tests and diagnostic tests that can accurately determine the exact cause of ovarian pain. Ultrasound testing is one of the significant tests done in this aspect.
Ovarian Pain – What Are The Main Causes?
In case you are wondering as, why do I have pain in my left ovary? There can be multiple reasons. Some of them may not be that harmful, while others can be fatal. Various causes can cause ovarian pain. Some of the most common causes, their diagnosis procedures, and their treatment methods are given below.
Many women have known to experience ovarian pain regularly whenever the monthly ovulation period comes on periodically. In this case, ovarian pain is directly related to the process of ovulation. Hence, this condition is often termed as ovulation pain or mittelschmerz, which is a German term that translates to middle pain.
For the majority of women, ovulation is known to occur when the menstrual cycle has occurred halfway. Therefore, the chances of feeling the pain due to ovulation are mainly near or around the 14th day, considering 28 days is the general period. The pain occurs mostly when the egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube by bursting out.
Since the pain is directly related to ovulation, the symptoms of mittelschmerz are almost the same as of ovulation. When this occurs, a woman is likely to feel pain or discomfort in either one or both sides of the pelvis region. The pain can be of varying intensity as well, ranging from mild to intense. The duration of the pain changes as well, with the pain lasting to a few minutes, in some cases, to extend up to quite a few hours in others. One group of women is also known to experience discharge or bleeding when ovulation occurs. The pain may or may not be accompanied by dizziness and nausea.
There is no particular cause that is known to cause pain during ovulation. However, there are many proposed theories. The most widely accepted theory is where it states that during ovulation; the egg is released, which needs to travel. As there is not a sufficient opening for the egg to smoothly pass through, it goes through the ovary walls. This causes some shedding and can cause pain. Another accepted theory is that the pain is caused when the egg gets enlarged. With the growth of the egg, the nearby places are pushed around a bit, which causes the pain.
In the majority of cases, the pain due to mittelschmerz does not last more than one day. Usually, there is no treatment required for mittelschmerz. However, if a woman is seeking to ease down the pain, she can take limited birth control pills. It is always advised to take such pills after the consultation with a doctor.
2. Ovarian Cysts
Sometimes in the ovaries, sacs are formed, which are filled with fluids. Such sacs are known as cysts, and they are found to be quite common in young women. When the process of ovulation starts in the female body, the chances of developing ovarian cysts are the highest. The cysts mainly form if there is some problem or delay with the release of the egg. Another cause of the formation of ovarian cysts is when the sac or the follicle that acted as the egg holder does not get dissolved even after the release of the egg. In most cases, there are no symptoms observed. The cysts also get dissolved naturally in the majority of cases. However, if the cyst becomes large or gets ruptured, a woman can feel sharp pangs or a dull ache.
Even though there are not any accurate symptoms of ovarian cysts formation, there are some general signs that occur in many women. Some of them are-
- Menstrual periods become irregular
- Bowel movements may cause pain
- Sexual intercourse can cause discomfort
- Vomiting and nausea can be felt
- Stomach may feel full even after eating minimal amounts of food
Ovarian cysts are mainly diagnosed by-
- Pelvic Exam – Such exams in the pelvic region can reveal lumps.
- Ultrasound Scanning – With the help of ultrasound scans, sound waves are used to obtain an image of the region surrounding the ovaries and the ovaries itself as well. With the images, a doctor can quickly determine the location or the size of a cyst, if present.
Sometimes, the ovarian cysts grow a lot and could rupture. There are various signs which can depict that the ovarian cysts have ruptured. Some of them are-
- Sudden and intense pain in the abdomen
- Having fever
- Excessive vomiting
- Sudden shocks
- Skin becomes clammy and cold
- Breathing becomes rapid
- Feeling of lightheadedness
In case you think that the ovarian cyst has ruptured, you may need medical attention. Contacting a doctor and seeking medical help should be done as fast as possible.
There are various treatment methods of ovarian cysts as well. Some of them are-
- Waiting and Watching – Even doing nothing can do the work as most of the ovarian cysts get dissolved on their own. In case you are not much bothered with the symptoms and have no problem doing your regular works, you can wait and watch. Even if you visit doctors, they may only observe you instead of treating you as they may feel it is nothing harmful. Doctors will keep on checking your condition regularly. If it is nothing serious, then you won’t need any treatment.
- Laparoscopy – In this process, the ovarian cysts are removed with the help of surgery. Tiny incisions are made in the abdomen from where a mini camera is inserted in the body to be able to locate and remove the cysts visually. In case the cyst is more prominent, bigger incisions need to be done. The technique of doing it is known as laparotomy, and it effectively removes the cyst.
- Taking Birth Control Pills – With the intake of limited birth control pills after the consultation with doctors, the cyst formation can be stopped. This happens as birth control pills prevent ovulation itself.
In a monthly period, the uterus lining slowly gets developed to provide proper nourishment to a developing fetus. If the fertilization of the egg does not occur, the uterus lining is shed. This lining goes out of the body with the help of menstruation. In some of the cases, the tissues which are very similar to the uterus lining are developed in some different place of the body. With the monthly period, this tissue continues to swell and shed blood. However, it does not get out of the body and can result in scar tissue formation. This results in a harrowing experience.
Some of the significant symptoms of endometriosis include-
- Periods associated with pain
- Pain while sexual intercourse is performed
- Menstrual periods are heavier than usual
- Resulting in infertility
- Bowel movements becoming painful
To diagnose endometriosis, the procedures that are followed are –
- Physical Exams & Medical History – Taking various physical exams and studying detailed medical history can help with the diagnosis of endometriosis.
- MRI and Ultrasound – In case you have a benign ovarian cyst, endometrioma, or endometriosis, these tests and scans can help the doctors to diagnose it quickly.
- Laparoscopy – This is a surgical procedure where small incisions are done in the abdomen through which a tiny camera is inserted in the body. With the visual aid, doctors can remove the required tissue cells to eliminate endometriosis.
Endometriosis also has several treatment methods. Some of them are-
- Medications For Pain – Some common pain medications such as ibuprofen, mainly Advil and Motrin can help in easing the discomfort of endometriosis.
- Taking Birth Control Pills – With the use of birth control pills, the endometrial tissue that is supposed to build up in a monthly period is prevented. As a result, the effect of endometriosis is reduced. The symptoms are significantly reduced, and the periods become lighter than usual.
- GnRH Agonists or Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonists – With the use of these drugs, the level of estrogen in the female body is decreased. Thus, endometriosis growth is considerably slowed down.
- Laparoscopy & Laparotomy – The surgical procedure where the unwanted material is removed from the body with the help of visual aid is called laparoscopy. The technique is termed as laparotomy. In the case of extensive endometriosis cases, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even the entire uterus can be removed by hysterectomy.
2. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID is when the fallopian tubes, uterus, or the ovaries get infected. Considered as one of the most common causes of the pelvic pains experienced by women, PID can be caused under any circumstances. The most common cause of PID is via the STDs or the Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
There are various symptoms of PID. The notable ones are-
- Discomfort and pain felt during sexual intercourse
- Having fever
- Having a smelly vaginal discharge
- Menstrual bleeding occurring irregularly
- Having diarrhea
- Excess vomiting
- Having too much fatigue
- Having difficulty and trouble in urinating
Mainly, PID is diagnosed with the following-
- Pelvic Exam – In this exam, the doctor can find if there is any abnormal discharge, tenderness, or formation of lumps that have happened in the pelvis or not.
- Urine & Blood Tests – Such tests can accurately identify if an infection exists. When a Pelvic exam is performed, the cultures of the discharge can also help.
- Ultrasound – With this test, doctors can get an image of the pelvis. The main aim is to find out if any of the reproductive organs have gotten enlarged or not. Abscess, an infection pocket can also be identified in the pelvic area, if present.
- Laparoscopy – This surgical procedure can provide visual proof of PID by inserting a mini camera through the abdomen after small incisions.
PID treatment can be mainly done by –
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics are primarily administered in the body through injecting or orally. With the introduction of such antibiotics in the body, the PID causing bacteria gets killed. If you are treating PID with antibiotics, make sure your sexual partner or partners get the same treatment as well. This is because the chances of your partner being affected by PID due to the same STD are very high.
3. Ovarian Remnant Syndrome
The surgical procedure of the removal of ovaries and uterus is known as oophorectomy and hysterectomy, respectively. The method where the ovaries and both of the fallopian tubes are removed together is known as bilateral scalping oophorectomy. In such surgeries, small ovary pieces or remnants may be left behind due to inaccurate precision. Such remnants usually grow in size and form cysts, which can be very painful. This is known as the Ovarian Remnant Syndrome or ORS.
With ORS, the most common symptom is pelvic pain. The menopausal symptoms may not be like expected. Similar symptoms to endometriosis are observed in many cases. Mainly, the symptoms of ORS are seen within five years after the surgery has taken place.
Some symptoms of ovarian remnant syndrome are-
- Difficulty in urination
- Having pain while doing sexual intercourse
Diagnosis of ovarian remnant syndrome is made by-
- CT Scans
Such scans provide the image of the remaining ovary tissues, which can then be removed by doctors.
The usual treatment methods of ovarian remnant syndrome are-
- Laparotomy or Laparoscopy – With this visually aided surgery through mini cameras, doctors can remove the ovary pieces that are left out.
- Hormone Therapy – With proper hormone therapies, ovulation can be suppressed.
4. Ovarian Tumors (Cancerous and Non-cancerous)
Just like tumors can occur in any body part, tumors in ovaries are also not uncommon. There are mainly two types of ovarian tumors-
- Non-cancerous ovarian tumors (benign)
- Cancerous ovarian tumors (malignant)
Having ovarian cancer is one of the worst-case possibilities a woman may go through. The chances of it happening are very rare, though. As per reports, 11 out of 1 million women are affected by ovarian cancer. Another report states that 63 years of age is the average age of a woman to be diagnosed with an ovarian tumor.
The most critical aspect in the treatment of ovarian cancer is the detection in the early stages. In case of any queries or doubts, visiting a doctor to get an accurate result is always recommended. Since the early stages of the ovarian tumors and cancers have no symptoms, it may be tough even to guess its occurrence.
Given below are some symptoms which may be detected if a woman is affected with ovarian tumor-
- Feeling the pressure in the abdominal region or bloating
- The need to urinate frequently comes with a feeling of urgency
- Having indigestion
- Having constipation
- Having diarrhea
- Having a loss of appetite
- Weight loss or gain in the belly happening involuntarily
To diagnose the early stages of ovarian tumor and cancer, some of the procedures are-
- Using CT, MRI, and PET – CT or Computed Tomography, MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging and PET or Positron Emitting Tomography are all advanced scanning systems. These scans are used by doctors to be able to identify tumors or cancers in the ovaries. Even in the early stages, the anomaly can be detected.
- CA-125 Test – This test analyses the blood sample and checks out for a specific protein in the blood. This protein is mainly found in higher concentrations among ovarian cancer affected patients. Even though it is not very much effective, it is still used in women who are suspected of having ovarian cancer.
The main treatment methods of ovarian tumor and ovarian cancer are-
- Laparotomy – In this surgery, a camera is inserted into the abdomen via a small incision, which helps in the removal of the tumor. Debulking, the removal of the tumor is done successfully in the early stages. In the later stages of the tumor, doctors may even remove fallopian tubes, omentum of intestines, uterus, lymph nodes, and ovaries. Robotic surgery and laparoscopy are the other alternate surgical treatments.
- Chemotherapy – In this process, drugs are introduced in the body through the mouth, directly through the abdomen or in an intravenous way. These drugs target cancer cells and kill them. However, the healthy cells which are surrounding the cancer cells also get destroyed. As a result, the patient may suffer from hair loss, infections, and damage to kidney, vomiting, and nausea. When the treatment is complete, these effects go away.
- Radiation – The cancer cells are killed with the introduction of X-rays of very high intensity. The source of radiation either is placed in the body adjacent to the tumor source, or it is provided from the outside. Once again, this affects the healthy cells too. The patients can suffer from extreme fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and inflamed skin. This treatment method is rarely used, and it is like the last sort of measure.
5. Phantom Pains
When the ovaries are affected in any way, the adjacent organs and body parts can also feel some changes. This may result in pains in other pelvic regions apart from the ovaries. These conditions are known to provide phantom pains. Some of the prominent ones are given below.
- Appendicitis – In appendicitis, you will feel pain on the right side of the lower abdomen near the navel. Additional symptoms include constipation, infection, chills, vomiting, fever, and loss of appetite.
- Constipation – In case your bowel clearance has dropped to less than three times in one week, you may have constipation. Hard stools are frequent in such cases. Since the intestines are never empty, you may feel mild pains in the abdomen from time to time.
- Formation of Kidney Stones – The pain that is associated with kidney stones may be intense, and it is mainly concentrated in the backside of the abdomen, close to the ribs. Fever is common, with pain coming and going. The urine may contain blood, as well.
- Pregnancy – In case your period did not come, which was scheduled, the chances are that you are pregnant. Pregnancy also causes stomach cramps, and you will also feel like to vomit a lot. Breast tenderness occurs, and hormonal changes are significant in the body. In terms of complications, an ectopic pregnancy may occur. In that case, the pain will be severely intense. Ectopic pregnancy is also a severe medical condition, and the patient will need medical treatment as soon as possible.
- Infection in the Urinary Tract – If you have a urinary tract infection, you will feel the pain more subjected to the central region of the pelvis. The main symptoms of such cases are discomfort while urination, frequent urination, and urine coming out to be cloudy.
When Should I See A Doctor?
If you are experiencing ovary pain all of a sudden with some of the symptoms mentioned above, visiting a doctor is always recommended. In case the pain is mild, you can try to keep a record of the occurrence of pain, the duration, the initiation, the pattern, and so on. Such information may prove to be very valuable for the doctors who will treat you.
In many cases, the pain is mild, and it does not affect the day-to-day workings. However, you can always check out your condition with tests performed by the doctors. In case there is a serious underlying medical condition, you will be able to start taking steps for its treatment as fast as possible. Even if nothing is there, you will be relieved with your peace of mind being maintained.