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The Serious Health Condition You Could Be Mistaking for Really Bad Cramps

At 5 a.m. on Monday, May 29, 2017, I stiffly sat up in my bed and wiped the fatigue from my eyes. A sensation of unease and discomfort overcame my body, more specifically my lower abdomen, as I sat wrapped in my blankets. At that point, my first thought jumped to “bathroom,” and to the bathroom I ran. But after a less than successful trip to the porcelain throne, I realized that maybe my initial inkling had been completely wrong. My realization was soon proven correct when my strange stomachache swiftly transformed into excruciating pain radiating from my lower right abdomen; these were no ordinary cramps.

A trip to the emergency room and several medical tests later, including a blood test, a urine test, a CT scan, and an ultrasound, the doctor had come to the conclusion that I had myself an enormous six centimeter cyst thriving on top of my right ovary!  This same massive cyst had become inflamed and was displacing my uterus which was what had been causing me so much discomfort.

Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs that can form during a woman’s menstrual cycle due to the failed release of an egg from the follicle of the ovaries. If the follicle doesn’t release the egg, the fluid inside the follicle will form a cyst on the ovary as a result. Surprisingly, most women experience the growth of a cyst on their ovaries at least one time in their lives. The good news is that most of those women don’t even notice the cysts because the majority of ovarian cysts are completely painless and show no symptoms before eventually going away on their own!

Courtesy: SlideShare.com

However, some symptoms that are crucial to be on the lookout for in regard to ovarian cysts are:

  • Bloating or swelling of the abdomen
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pelvic pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pain in the lower back or thighs
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Some additional symptoms that are more severe in nature and, in turn, require prompt medical care include:

  • Severely sharp pelvic pain
  • Fever
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Accelerated breathing

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms it typically points to a ruptured cyst or an ovarian torsion.

As mentioned previously, most ovarian cysts show no symptoms and simply vanish on their own. In the case that an ovarian cyst causes you severe discomfort, it’s crucial to go get it checked out because there are some equally severe complications that can come with it. One of these complications is called ovarian torsion. Ovarian torsion is a rare complication in which an unusually large cyst forces the ovary to twist or turn away from its original position. When that occurs, the ovary’s blood supply gets cut off and, if untreated, it can damage or cause death to the tissue of the ovary. Another complication is the rupturing of a cyst. This causes terrible pain and even internal bleeding that can lead to infection and even life-threatening consequences if not treated immediately.

I was fortunate enough not to fall victim to any severe complications but that is why it is so important to know the symptoms and to get checked out by your doctor if you ever experience any of the symptoms. Never simply write it off as bad cramps.

This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. 

Tawnie Simpson is a Senior Editing, Writing, and Media student at Florida State University. She enjoys (needs) a good cup of cold brew, she comes from a small town nobody knows called "about an hour south of Tampa" and she is often mistaken for 10-year-old Lindsay Lohan, but she's not complaining.
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