Sacs of fluid that grow in or on the ovaries are referred to as ovarian cysts. These cysts are usually benign and many cause no symptoms. However, large cysts or cysts that are bleeding into surrounding structures may cause symptoms that affect the reproductive system, urinary tract and digestive system. Because many of these symptoms can be caused by a number of medical conditions, they must be evaluated to determine their true cause.
Physicians from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center cite pelvic pain, pain during intercourse and changes in the menstrual cycle as symptoms of ovarian cysts that affect the reproductive system. Because ovarian cysts can compress the ovaries or surrounding organs, a dull ache in the pelvis can indicate the presence of a cyst. If the cyst is bleeding into surrounding structures, pelvic pain may be sharper and begin more suddenly. During intercourse, pressure may be put on an ovarian cyst, causing pain during and after penetration. The pressure of the cyst on the ovaries or uterus may cause changes in the menstrual cycle. These changes can include absent periods, more painful periods, or heavier bleeding during periods.
As an ovarian cyst grows, it can place pressure on the bladder. According to Laurie Rosenblum from Langone Medical Center at New York University, one ovarian cyst symptom is difficulty in emptying the bladder completely. This occurs because a large cyst can block the flow of urine from the bladder to the urethra. As a result, women may experience urinary frequency when an ovarian cyst is pressing on the bladder. Because difficult in emptying the bladder completely can lead to urinary tract infections and other urinary conditions, a physician must decide how to treat the ovarian cyst so that urinary function can return to normal.
Because of the proximity of the pelvic organs to some of the digestive organs, it is possible for an ovarian cyst to cause symptoms that affect the digestive tract. According to physicians from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, these symptoms include nausea, vomiting and difficulty having a bowel movement. Nausea and vomiting can occur because of an ovarian cyst's pressure on surrounding structures in the pelvis. When a cyst becomes large, it can put pressure on the rectum, making it difficult to have a bowel movement. If these symptoms persist, a physical examination and diagnostic testing may have be done to make the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst.