Ask the expert

Uncomfortable Pressure & Pain in Ovary

18 March 2021

I'm experiencing an uncomfortable pressure/pain sensation in my right ovary. The pain has been there for a while on and off but the pressure feeling has been constant for 2 weeks since having a gland check by my doctor.

I had a non symptomatic UTI which was treated with antibiotics and has cleared up and my subsequent blood tests for liver, kidney and thyroid function came back clear. I've been feeling generally run down and tired for at least 3 months now. The pain in my ovary happened during sex quite some time ago and I put it down to a one off, although it had happened a few times since and most recently felt more like the pressure i'm constantly experiencing. I'm getting more and more worried about this but can't book an appointment with any doctor at my local surgery and don't know if I should go to A&E...

Sorry to hear that you have been unwell recently. I understand you’re concerned and hopefully the information provided will give you some reassurance.

There are several underlying medical conditions that could be causing the pain and pressure sensation you’ve been experiencing in your ovary. The most common of these are detailed below.

Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are very common and can be under diagnosed until symptoms present.
Pelvic pain, which can range from a dull, heavy sensation to sudden, sharp pain; pain during sex; and a feeling of tiredness and being run down are all common symptoms of ovarian cysts. Others symptoms include heavy, irregular or lighter periods than normal; a swollen tummy; feeling full after only a small amount of food; and needing to urinate more frequently. Ovarian cysts can also often lead to urinary infections such as you have experienced, which increases the likelihood that this is what’s behind the symptoms you describe. Urine infections themselves can give rise to similar discomfort, but I note you recently had the infection treated and it has been cleared.

Types of ovarian cyst and their treatment

Cysts can be fluid filled and disappear naturally. Some contain tissue, and others can be endometrioid in nature, where the lining of the uterus has seeded outside of itself. The ovary is a common site of such seedlings. Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous), but in extremely rare cases they may be cancerous.

Whether or not an ovarian cyst needs treatment depends on a number of factors, including size, appearance, what symptoms you’re experiencing and whether you’ve been through the menopause. Most disappear on their own after a few months but given your concern a good chat with your GP does seem in order.

An emergency situation can occur when an ovarian cyst ruptures. This is a rare occurrence and if it happens, women need to attend their nearest A&E department to receive immediate medical attention.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that has spread to the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. Most of the time, the bacteria causing PID is sexually transmitted, such as from gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

It is also possible to get PID from an infection after childbirth, IUD insertion, miscarriage, abortion, or another invasive procedure.

Treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease

PID requires antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. Mild PID can be treated with a single injection, while more severe PID may require a stay in the hospital for intravenous antibiotics.

Referred pain

It is possible that a medical condition in another organ can cause pain that feels like it is coming from the ovaries. These can include appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, kidney stones, constipation, or early pregnancy.

Next steps

As you’re having difficulty obtaining an appointment at your doctors’ surgery you may like to request a telephone consultation with your GP instead. This can usually be performed on the same day. You’ll be able to discuss your concerns in detail and it may be prudent to request a gynaecological examination.

Under the circumstances you might benefit of having an ultrasound scan of your pelvis. This is a simple and usually painless investigation that will show the condition of your ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus very clearly.

I’m sure that your doctor will decide on the best investigation path for you. In the meantime, if your pain becomes more severe and/or you experience nausea or very extreme discomfort, a visit to A&E may be wise.

Answered by the Health at Hand team.

Sources and further reading

Ovarian cysts – NHS Factsheet

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – NHS Factsheet

Ultrasound scan – NHS Choices

Pelvic pain – NHS Factsheet

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