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Ovarian Abscess


An ovarian abscess

is a pus-filled pocket in an ovary. An ovarian abscess is usually caused by bacteria that travel from another part of your body. The bacteria can also travel up your vagina and move into your uterus through your cervix. Bacteria infect the ovary or part of the fallopian tube next to the ovary. An abscess that starts in a fallopian tube and spreads to the ovary is called a tuboovarian abscess (TOA). Less commonly, the abscess can start in the ovary and not involve the fallopian tube.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Pain or ache in your abdomen or pelvis, or pain that worsens with activity or during sex
  • Tender area in your lower abdomen
  • Heavy monthly periods, spotting, or vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue or fever

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain.
  • Your heartbeat or breathing is faster than normal for you.
  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding and feel lightheaded.
  • You have new or worsening pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • Your pain does not get better even after you take pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


An ovarian abscess may need to be treated in the hospital. You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics are given to fight a bacterial infection. You may get antibiotics through an IV for several days.
  • Drainage is a procedure used to drain the bacteria from your ovary. Drainage may be done through a needle or during surgery. The area that had the abscess will then be cleaned out.
  • A hysterectomy may be needed if the infection spreads from the ovary. You may need to have one or both ovaries removed. Your fallopian tubes and uterus may also need to be removed. A hysterectomy will prevent you from being able to become pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about other treatment options if you want to have children.
  • Surgery may be used to remove the abscess. Surgery will be necessary if the abscess ruptures. A ruptured ovarian abscess is a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate treatment.

Manage an ovarian abscess:

  • Do not have sex until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will need to finish treatment before it is safe to have sex.
  • Do not have unprotected sex. Always use a latex condom. Do not have sex while you or your partners are being treated for an STI.
  • Talk to your sex partners. If you have an STI, tell your recent partners. Tell them to see a healthcare provider for testing and treatment. This will help stop the spread of infection to others or back to you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.