Periods are a mystery. I’ve been getting mine since I was 11 years old, so you’d think by 29, I’d be a pro at the whole bleeding, cramping and extreme-mood-swing thing, right? Not at all.
My period, like yours, has changed over the years. It’s gotten heavier, lighter, at times debilitating for a few days, and because I’m not on birth control, is completely irregular.
After a few of my friends told me that they had ovarian cysts, I started Google searching to learn more about what those were and how a person can know if they have them. But since being your own doctor can be dangerous and frightening, since reading too much on WebMD about anything for long enough will make you think you 100 percent have it, I decided to reach out to some experts.
Check out what these gynecologists say are the ways to know if you may have ovarian cysts vs. just really bad periods.
1. Persistent one-sided pain
An interesting thing that Dr. Sheeva Talebian, an OB-GYN, said is that usually ovarian cysts cause one-sided pain.
“Ovarian cysts will cause persistent pain in your right or left lower abdomen,” she said. “This pain does not improve with the onset of your period.”
The pain may also occur during certain moments during sex and exercise.
“While it is not unusual to have some discomfort at times with intercourse, if the pain persists or is getting worse every time you have sex, it could indicate an ovarian cyst,” Talebian said. “Exercise too. Some women experience pain with exercise right after they ovulate. If this pain continues for a couple weeks, could indicate a cyst.”
So what should you do if you think you have an ovarian cyst? Make an appointment with your doctor. Generally, your doctor will do an exam to check for any growths. If they are found, they are entirely treatable.
2. Pain on your lower right side
Perhaps you are feeling pain in your pelvic area, but are unsure if it’s related to an ovarian cyst. Dr. Michael Cackovic, an OB-GYN, says that pain from the cysts is often on the right side of your body.
“The right ovary is most commonly affected, possibly because the rectosigmoid colon protects the left ovary from the effects of abdominal trauma,” said Cackovic. “In a series of 244 cases of ovarian cysts, 63 percent were right-sided.”
3. You may not have any symptoms
While you might be writing down a list of potential symptoms you have that line up with the symptoms of having ovarian cysts, interestingly enough, you may not have any symptoms and still have cysts.
“Ovarian cysts are mostly asymptomatic, meaning they can grow in size without causing any noticeable symptoms,” said Dr. Adeeti Gupta, an OB-GYN. “Cysts can present with abdominal swelling, weight gain, bloating, loss of appetite and/or irregular periods. Usually, by the time these symptoms are exhibited, the cysts have grown pretty large. The best way to diagnose them is by ultrasound of the pelvis.