Ovarian Cysts are No Joke: My Experience with Cysts and How I Deal With Them Now

Eight years and two surgeries later, I still can't stand my ovarian cysts.

When I was 13, I spent 19 hours in the ER with my mom for lower-abdominal side pain. The pain was unlike anything I had ever been through, and I was convinced dying, or something very close, was on the horizon. An x-ray, CAT scan, and several needles in my arm later, the doctor came into my dinky little waiting room and said, “You can go home. It’s an ovarian cyst. There’s not much we can do for you.”

As a teenager, it was more than frustrating to hear that there was absolutely nothing I or any of my doctors could do to stop or ease the sometimes blinding pain that shot across my stomach every month. I missed many days of school, I had no energy for days at a time, I felt nauseous all the time and I spent my weekends sleeping in with a hot pad and a bottle of Tylenol watching Friends and House Hunters on repeat. Nothing stopped the pain.  

When I turned 18, I started birth control and that helped immensely. I went about a year without feeling one cyst. But that blissful peace would end eventually.

 

In October of 2017, I went to the ER with unbearable side pain. I thought it might be a cyst, but one of the worst things about ovarian cysts is that they cause pain in dangerous areas – you never know if the pain really is just another cyst from Hell or something more serious that would require surgery, like appendicitis. By this point, I was used to being disappointed that there was no solution to my ailment and I would be sent home still in a world of pain. While my initial inkling was spot on – it was a cyst – it was a lot trickier this time around.

“You twisted your ovary,” the doctor said. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance being rushed to the Women’s hospital on the other side of town for emergency surgery.

My ovary had swelled from the normal one-centimeter to a whopping six-centimeters wide. One of the cysts had gotten so big that it almost caused my ovary to turn and was blocking blood flow. The main concern was that the blocked flow would cause the cells in my ovary to die, and I could have lost my right ovary. Thankfully, I had gotten seen soon enough that it had not become that serious.

After the surgery, I had a lot of concerns. I developed a lot of anxiety over any kind of pain I would get in that area, worrying that my ovary was dying and that if I waited too long to get to a hospital I would lose it. I tried not to freak out every time I had the pain, but I was frantic. I even ended up going in for surgery again because my doctor and I were convinced that it was another large cyst, only to get in there and find nothing.

There really is no way to prevent these from occurring, but thankfully I have found ways of dulling the pain. Heating pads and pain-killers are obvious treatments, but I have also found hot tea (peppermint and chamomile are my favorites) ease the pain as well. I try to exercise (I usually just end up walking in my free time between classes, because I HATE exercising) and try to eat healthier. These are all great things to do if you are someone who grows cysts often.

Also, always talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Your OB/GYN is essential in making sure you are healthy. Be sure to write down symptoms and other concerns in a journal of some kind to make appointments easy.

Don’t let people talk down your pain. Don’t let them get to you when they think you’re overreacting. Women’s pains are largely underestimated and a lot goes undiagnosed. Listen to your body. Take care of yourself.

All images courtesy of Unsplash.com