A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking part in sexual intercourse. It was all going great until about halfway through – with all of the pushing, pulling, and jostling around, it felt like something in my lower left pelvic region had been knocked free. At the time it just felt like a slight twinge, so I finished up my business and moved on.
As the night progressed, the tiny pinprick didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. It transformed from a pinch to an ache to a full-blown stabbing pain. Needless to say, I was pretty freaked out (appendix? miscarriage? infection?) and finally went to the emergency room around midnight because I couldn’t sleep.
After undergoing a few vital tests I was sent home and told to come back in the morning for an ultrasound. As a picture of my uterus flashed across the screen the next day, I took note of what looked like an ugly purple bruise on one of my ovaries. “Yep,” the technician said to me. “You've got a ruptured cyst.”
It turns out that ruptured cysts are a relatively common phenomenon. Cysts are little fluid-filled sacs that grow on the outside of your ovaries. They start out as follicles, which are usually eliminated each month during menstruation. The most stubborn follicles hang around and set up camp to become full-blown cysts. Sometimes cysts will go away on their own and sometimes they require surgical removal. Doctors often take a biopsy of surgically removed cysts in order to confirm that they are benign (non-cancerous).
When a cyst bursts, or ruptures, a woman will most likely experience pain and bleeding. She may also have a feeling of fullness or heaviness in her abdomen and may be extra sensitive during sexual activities and trips to the bathroom.
The biggest health risk associated with ruptured cysts is hemorrhaging. You don’t want to lose too much blood or become dizzy or weak – these are all bad signs! Always visit a doctor if your pain is severe or bleeding continues for days on end. It is a good idea to mention the cyst to your gynecologist next time you’re in for an exam, too, so that more severe medical problems can be ruled out.
Given that you don’t have any other major reproductive issues, you probably won’t require any further treatment once the cyst drains. Simply wear a tampon or sanitary napkin until bleeding ceases. Repeated cysts may be treated with birth control pills, which regulate hormones and reduce follicle growth.