Symptoms of ovarian cysts 

In most cases, ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms.

You will usually only have symptoms if you have a cyst that:

  • ruptures (splits)
  • is very large
  • blocks the blood supply to the ovaries (torsion)

In these cases, you may have the following symptoms:

  • pelvic pain – this can range from a dull, heavy sensation (associated with large cysts) to a sudden, sharp pain (associated with a ruptured cyst or torsion) 
  • pelvic pain during sexual intercourse
  • difficulty emptying your bowels
  • frequent need to urinate
  • changes to your normal menstruation – you may have heavy periodsirregular periods or lighter periods than normal
  • a feeling of fullness and bloating
  • indigestion or feeling very full, even though you have only eaten a little
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue) 

When to seek medical advice

You should contact your GP if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. If this is not possible, telephone your local out-of-hours service or NHS 111.

Reduced breast cancer risk

Having an ovarian cyst can be upsetting, particularly if it causes symptoms.

The good news is that researchers have found that women (particularly black women) with ovarian cysts have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The reasons for this are unclear.

Page last reviewed: 06/12/2012

Next review due: 06/12/2014