There are many ways you can use to relieve ovarian cyst pain. When the diagnosis of the problem is confirmed, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers or the stronger variations that require a prescription to be purchased. You may also consider surgery to remove the cyst that remains unresolved after two to three menstrual cycles, as removing the cyst can relieve pain. Birth control pills can be considered as a way to prevent more cysts from forming. However, they cannot treat any cysts you already have.
Part 1 of 4: Using Pain Medication
Step 1. Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to relieve the pain
The most conventional treatment for pain control is NSAIDs. They can be obtained over-the-counter from any pharmacy. You can also take stronger medications, you only need to ask your doctor for a prescription if the weaker versions aren't enough to relieve the pain.
- An example of an NSAID drug is ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). The typical dose is 400 to 600 mg every four to six hours, as needed. Follow the dosage instructions described in the package insert.
- Another option is naproxen (Aleve). It is available over-the-counter or in a stronger version that can be purchased if you have a doctor's prescription.
Step 2. Consider a narcotic pain reliever for severe pain
In some severe cases, a narcotic pain reliever is needed. The first-line narcotic used to treat ovarian cyst pain is morphine, an opiate.
- Narcotics are the last option when it comes to pain relief. In light of the national epidemic of narcotic abuse or misuse in the United States, opiate medications should only be taken in an emergency setting or for as little time as possible.
- Also, if you have a history of substance abuse and a previous addiction to illicit or prescription drugs, the decision to use the drug should be weighed against the risk of harm or relapse.
- Morphine for ovarian cyst pain is most often offered through intravenous dosing and in a hospital setting.
- This is to ensure the strength of the medication, as the pain is usually very severe, resulting in an emergency visit.
- Initially, a small dose of morphine is given intravenously; the dose is gradually increased until the pain is under control.
- This medication is also a very safe option within the hospital setting. It can be easily reversed with naloxone if any adverse reaction occurs.
Step 3. Confirm that an ovarian cyst is the source of your pain if you're not sure
If you are experiencing abdominal or pelvic pain, it is important to see your doctor and have a physical exam, an ultrasound, and any other tests needed to confirm that the source of your pain is indeed an ovarian cyst. Many other conditions can cause ovarian cyst-like pain, so it is important to consult your doctor to confirm that a cyst is actually causing the pain.
A doctor can perform a pelvic ultrasound, where a wand-like device is inserted into the vagina and uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the ovaries on a video screen. This imaging test can help the doctor confirm the presence of a cyst, identify the location, and determine whether it is solid, fluid-filled, or mixed
Part 2 of 4: Opting for surgery
Step 1. Talk to your doctor about surgery if pain is persistent
For the acute (short-term) pain of an ovarian cyst, medication may be enough to get relief until symptoms resolve. If the pain persists for two to three menstrual cycles, if it is large, does not look like a functioning cyst, or is growing, you will probably be advised to proceed with surgery to have the cyst removed.
- Many of the ovarian cysts are benign.
- There are two options: either the cyst can be removed from the ovary or the entire ovary can be removed. The extent of surgery will depend on the number of cysts present in the ovary, as well as the patient's age and reproductive considerations. (Surgery is usually more extensive after menopause.)
- Fortunately, if the entire ovary needs to be surgically removed, there is still the ovary on the other side so the woman doesn't lose her fertility.
Step 2. Remove the ovarian cyst if there is any suspicion that it may be cancerous
Another important factor in deciding whether or not surgery is needed as a treatment for an ovarian cyst is to evaluate it to see if it is cancerous. If there is a risk that it will develop into cancer, your doctor will advise that surgery be performed to prevent this from happening.
- When a cyst is removed due to the possibility of becoming cancerous, it is advisable to have the fallopian tubes and uterus removed, in addition to both ovaries.
- This, of course, has reproductive implications that need to be discussed with the doctor, as having all these structures removed will make you infertile.
Step 3. Try "watchful waiting" if the cyst is not immediately of concern
If he's still not showing signs of persistent pain or cancer risk, your doctor will probably advise you to wait. This involves using medications to relieve ovarian cyst pain while waiting for it to resolve without the need for medical intervention. However, you must commit to a full follow-up with periodic ultrasounds. This will ensure the cysts don't get worse.
If the cysts do not improve over time, surgery may be advised
Part 3 of 4: Taking birth control pills
Step 1. Take birth control pills to prevent new cysts from forming
Although birth control pills cannot help control the pain caused by the cysts that are currently present in the ovaries, birth control pills can help prevent new cysts from forming. So doctors advise patients with this problem to start using hormonal birth control pills as a method to prevent the problem from getting worse.
- You may receive a prescription for birth control pills from your doctor.
- They are taken once a day for three weeks, followed by a one-week break so that your period can subside. This cycle repeats itself monthly.
- The hormones in birth control pills replace the hormones that are normally produced by your ovaries.
- Then the ovaries temporarily "turn off" hormone production while you're on the pill, reducing the risk of any new cysts forming.
Step 2. Find out if you do not have any medical conditions that prevent you from taking birth control pills
If you have breast cancer, uterine cancer, or other cancer that is "fueled" by estrogen, you should not take birth control pills. If you are a smoker and are over 35 years of age, you will also be advised not to take the tablets because of an increased risk of developing blood clots. Also, if you have another bleeding disorder (such as an inherited bleeding disorder), you should not take the pill because of the risk of blood clots.
- The doctor will review your medical history with you to determine if it is safe to take birth control pills.
- For most people, it is completely safe to take this hormone.
Step 3. Continue birth control as a prophylactic measure
Taking birth control pills will reduce the chance of developing new cysts in the future. Also, they can reduce your chances of developing ovarian cancer. In fact, the longer you take birth control pills, the more your risk is reduced.
Part 4 of 4: Trying Natural Strategies to Relieve Pain
Step 1. Consume ginger or turmeric due to its anti-inflammatory properties
Instead of always choosing to take medical anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), another option for less severe pain is to add natural anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diet. Some examples include ginger and turmeric. Both ingredients can be added as spices to foods, and you can make them part of your recipes to lessen the painful inflammation that can be associated with ovarian cysts.
Step 2. Use heat
Applying heat to the abdominal and pelvic area (over the source of pain) can help to relax the muscles and relieve pain. Try using a hot water bottle or heating pad for 15 minutes at a time, as needed, to relieve pain.
- You can also opt for a hot bath as a means of applying heat to the area.
- An Epsom salt bath is even better as the magnesium in the salts helps with muscle relaxation, further reducing pain.
Step 3. Consult with an acupuncturist or hypnotist
Although acupuncture and hypnosis are not generally recommended by Western traditional healers, some people find these treatments useful for pain management. Acupuncturists work with needles to correct the flow of energy through the body, with the ultimate goal of relieving (or lessening) pain. Hypnotists work to lessen your mind's perception of pain.
Step 4. Try to distract yourself from the pain
Find an activity you can do that will distract you from the pain of the cyst. Reading a good book, using guided imagery, playing video games, making a craft, or doing anything to take your mind off the pain can help.