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Ruptured Ovarian Cyst

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is a ruptured ovarian cyst?

A ruptured ovarian cyst is a cyst that breaks open. A cyst is a sac that grows on an ovary. This sac usually contains fluid, but may sometimes have blood or tissue in it. A large cyst that ruptures may lead to problems that need immediate care.

What causes or increases my risk for a ruptured ovarian cyst?

You may be at higher risk for a ruptured ovarian cyst if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes many cysts to grow on your ovary. Any of the following can lead to a ruptured cyst:

  • Hormone changes around the time of your monthly period
  • Pressure on the cyst from sports, sex, or an injury to the area (usually large cysts)
  • Pregnancy

What are the signs and symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cyst?

You may have no signs or symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • Pain that can range from mild to severe or be mild at first but become severe quickly
  • Sudden, sharp, or stabbing pain that happens on one side
  • Pain that starts during activity or sex, or that gets worse when you move
  • Tenderness in the area of your ovary
  • A low fever
  • Nausea, vomiting, or dizziness

How is a ruptured ovarian cyst diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. If you have pain, tell your provider what you were doing when you first felt the pain. Include anything that helps or increases the pain. Tell your provider if you or anyone in your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, or PCOS. You may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests are used to check for pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy. This is when a fertilized egg is growing in a fallopian tube instead of the womb. You may also need to have hormone levels checked. Blood tests may also be used to check for signs of an infection or tumor.
  • Ultrasound pictures may show a cyst on your ovary. For this test, an ultrasound wand is inserted into your vagina and guided up toward your uterus. This helps your healthcare provider get a closer look at your ovaries.

How is a ruptured ovarian cyst treated?

Treatment depends on your age, the size of the cyst, and if it caused problems that need treatment. Treatment may not be needed if the cyst was small or your body absorbed the fluid that came out of the cyst when it ruptured. You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Antibiotics may be needed to prevent or fight an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove fluid or blood in the area of the ruptured cyst. The outside of the ruptured cyst may also need to be removed.

What can I do to manage or prevent a ruptured ovarian cyst?

  • Apply heat where you have pain, as directed. Heat can help relieve mild pain. Use a heating pad (set on low) or hot water bottle. Wrap the pad or bottle in a towel before you apply it to your skin. Apply heat for 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. A warm bath may also help relieve the pain.
  • Ask when to come in for a follow-up examination. You may need another ultrasound 6 weeks after your cyst was treated. This will help make sure the cyst is no longer growing or causing health problems. You may also need ultrasound tests for 2 or 3 monthly periods to see how hormones affect your ovaries.
  • Ask about birth control pills. These may help reduce your risk for cysts. Ask your healthcare provider if birth control pills are right for you. The risk for a blood clot is higher if you take birth control pills, especially if you are older than 35 or smoke.
  • Have a pelvic exam every year. This may also be called a well woman visit. The exam will include a Pap smear to check for certain cancers. Your healthcare provider will also press on your abdomen to check for lumps or other problems. A pelvic exam can help find problems early. This makes treatment easier and more effective. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your monthly periods. Examples include periods that start on a different day than usual, or are lighter or heavier than usual. Tell your provider if you have worse pain than usual, or if the pain is different than you had before.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You are too weak or dizzy to stand up.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain in your pelvis or in your abdomen.
  • You have pain along with a fever, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You have signs of shock from blood loss, such as dizziness, cold or clammy skin, or fast breathing.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You notice changes in your monthly periods, or you begin to have nausea or vomiting with your periods.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • Your pain does not get better with pain medicine.
  • You have pain during sex.
  • You have bleeding from your vagina that is not your period.
  • Your abdomen is swollen, or you have a full or heavy feeling in your lower abdomen.
  • You have trouble urinating.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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