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Factors That Could Increase Your Risk for Developing Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts, tiny fluid-filled sacs that grow in or on your ovaries, are very common. However, that doesn’t make them any less bothersome. Although your ovarian cysts typically go away on their own, without so much as a twinge, some cysts can be downright painful.

An ovarian cyst can create pressure, swelling, bloating, heaviness, and a dull or sharp pain on one side of your pelvic region. Should the cyst grow, you’re at risk for it to rupture, which can add internal bleeding to the other symptoms. This can occur naturally, or as the result of vigorous physical exercise and activity, or even sexual intercourse. Severe symptoms, such as fever, nausea, or vomiting, may indicate an infection and need to be addressed immediately.

How ovarian cysts develop

Ovarian cysts are most common in women of childbearing age, who are having regular periods. In the middle of your cycle, at the time of ovulation, the cells, or follicles, in your ovary produce an egg. Every so often the follicle doesn’t release the egg. Instead, it develops a follicular cyst. This is the most common type of ovarian cyst.

A different type of cyst can develop on the ovary’s follicle after the egg has been released. This is called a corpus luteum cyst. Both the corpus luteum and follicular cysts are normal and don’t disrupt your normal cycle.

Sometimes other cysts can form on, or in, your ovary, requiring medical intervention. Dermoid cysts, cystadenomas, and endometriomas are less common and don’t occur as a result of a normal menstrual cycle. These cysts can be cancerous or benign and may even be a byproduct of endometriosis. Left untreated, these cysts can cause serious problems, including a painful twisting of your ovary, known as ovarian torsion.

Risk factors for ovarian cysts

These are some factors that can increase your risk of ovarian cysts:


If you’re taking hormones to encourage ovulation, such as the fertility drug clomiphene (Clomid), your risk for ovarian cysts will increase. This is due to the increase in ovarian activity.


It’s normal to develop an ovarian cyst early in your pregnancy. The cyst develops to support the pregnancy until the placenta has formed. In some cases, the cyst remains.

Pelvic infection

An infection in the pelvic region, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, can cause the development of ovarian cysts. This happens as a result of the infection spreading to the ovaries.


Endometriosis occurs when the cells in the uterine lining are shed as a normal part of your menstrual cycle, but they fail to exit the body when you menstruate. These cells attach themselves to different areas outside of your uterus, including your ovaries. In addition to reducing your fertility and causing pain, the endometrial cells can attach to your ovaries and develop into a growth.

A previous ovarian cyst

Once you’ve had an ovarian cyst, you’re at greater risk for developing another.

Don’t forgot your yearly exam

Ovarian cysts can be difficult to diagnose, especially if they produce no symptoms. That’s why it’s extremely important to have regular gynecological exams. At The Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia, we specialize in treating the source of your pain. All of our gynecological services are aimed at helping women live their best, pain-free life.

If you’re in pain or think you may be at risk for ovarian cysts, contact The Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia today. Melissa A. Delgado, MD, and nurse practitioner Wendy Roberts, CANP, along with their amazing support staff, approach your concerns with care and compassion.

We serve women in and around Annandale, Virginia, area. Schedule an appointment today and start enjoying life without the pain, or worry, of ovarian cysts.

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