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Ovary Pain During Pregnancy - An Overview

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Ovary pain in pregnancy manifests as pelvic or abdominal pain. It can be due to an underlying condition. Read this article to know its causes and management.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richa Agarwal

Published At December 13, 2022
Reviewed AtAugust 25, 2023

What Does Ovary Pain During Pregnancy Mean?

Pregnancy leads to an array of changes in the female body. These changes can be responsible for light cramping and mild discomfort in the area around the ovaries. Ovary pain may occur as unilateral pain in the lower abdominal and pelvic area or rarely in the back or thigh. Ovary pain can sometimes be a sign of implantation or a response to hormonal changes in early pregnancy. Any severe ovary pain accompanied by nausea, vaginal bleeding, fever, vomiting, or fainting should be reported to the doctor.

Is Ovary Pain During Pregnancy Normal?

It is not normal to have ovary pain during the entire term of pregnancy. Any pain in the ovaries, abdomen, vaginal, or pelvic area can signify something serious like ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, or uterine fibroids. A pregnant woman must consult her doctor, irrespective of the symptoms and the trimester if she experiences severe ovary or abdominal pain.

What Are the Main Causes of Ovary Pain During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the expectant mother can experience ovary pain due to the following reasons-

  1. Ectopic Pregnancy - Ectopic pregnancy is an extrauterine pregnancy that occurs when an egg is implanted outside the uterus. Implantation occurs commonly in the fallopian tubes due to internal blockages. If the condition remains undetected, the embryo grows in size and stretches the tube. It could cause ovary pain during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is an emergency as it can cause bleeding and pose life-threatening risks.

  2. Appendicitis -The appendix is a vestigial organ positioned below the large intestine. It tends to shift and enter the pelvic area during pregnancy, causing ovary pain. It must be treated as soon as diagnosed because it can lead to infection in the baby. This pain is typically associated with the right side.

  3. Gallbladder Problems -The gallbladder stones can cause radiating pain to the stomach but not the ovaries. Many women confuse this pain with normal pregnancy pain. It is challenging to treat gallbladder stones during pregnancy. If the infection or condition is severe, the surgery can be done in the second trimester.

  4. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) - Women are prone to urinary tract infections that can be confused with ovarian pain during pregnancy.

  5. Ovulation - Ovaries stop producing eggs during pregnancy, but they continue to do so in some women. The ovaries release eggs, which can cause mild pain. It also increases the risk of double pregnancy.

  6. Fibroids - Fibroids or benign ovarian tumors can cause pain in the ovary and pelvic region. They can block the path of implantation of the fertilized egg. Fibroids can form due to injuries or diseases. Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of the uterine lining tissues. It can also be responsible for ovary pain during pregnancy.

  7. Miscarriage - Ovary pain during pregnancy can be due to a miscarriage.

  8. Accommodation Pain - As the pregnancy reaches around 12 weeks, all the organs in the pelvic region start making a place for the baby. Ovarian pain can be due to this reason. Cramping pain of the abdominal muscles to accommodate the baby is a normal phenomenon. Molar pregnancy is when the baby grows as a lump of tissues and cannot survive. It is associated with vaginal bleeding and a lot of pain. It needs to be removed immediately.

  9. Kidney Stones - Ovarian pain can be experienced during pregnancy if kidney stones are present. The pain spreads from the kidneys to the ovary and causes a burning sensation during urination.

  10. Cyst Twist or Torsion - Ovarian cysts due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can sometimes get a torsion, and twisting these cysts can cause extreme pain. Surgical removal of the cysts is the only treatment option.

  11. Round Ligament Pain - This mostly occurs in the second trimester due to stretching the ligament from the groin to the uterus (known as round ligament pain). The pain worsens after getting up, sleeping, or sitting for a long time.

  12. Ovarian Torsion - The ovary or the fallopian tube gets twisted, causing much pain as the blood supply to the ovaries is disrupted.

  13. Placental Abruption is the early detachment of the placenta from the uterus wall. This causes ovary pain and bleeding during the third trimester. It increases the risk of premature labor and affects the lives of both the mother and the baby.

  14. Preeclampsia - Preeclampsia during pregnancy is an increase in blood pressure and deficiency in the supply of oxygen in pregnant women. It can cause placental abruption.

  15. Premature Labour - The uterine contraction can cause ovarian pain during a premature delivery. The pain radiates in all directions and is unbearable.

How to Diagnose Ovary Pain During Pregnancy?

Ovary pain during pregnancy is mainly detected initially by the symptoms. The following methods can be used for diagnosis–

  • Lab and blood tests.

  • Imaging techniques like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans to visualize the abdominal and pelvic region.

  • Ultrasound- transvaginal ultrasound for ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cyst rupture, or torsion.

  • Pelvic laparoscopy.

  • Urine analysis for UTI (urinary tract infections) and kidney stones.

What Is the Treatment for Ovary Pain During Pregnancy?

A. At Home - If there are no associated complications, the following measures can be taken at home to relieve pain-

  • Stretching exercises, prenatal yoga, and meditation.

  • Drinking plenty of water.

  • Take lots of rest to regain strength.

  • Sitting with knees close to the chest to minimize pressure.

  • Shifting positions often.

B. Medical Treatment - The medication depends on the severity and cause of the pain. The doctor can prescribe certain painkillers for kidney stones, gallbladder stones, or appendicitis. Methotrexate is injected into the body for ectopic pregnancy. Medications should only be administered after consulting with the doctor.

C. Surgery - Ovary pain due to ectopic pregnancy requires surgical intervention. Laparoscopic surgery or laparotomy can be done for ovarian torsion. Ureteroscopy can be done for kidney stones.

Conclusion:

Ovarian pain during early pregnancy is the body’s way of adjusting to the changes due to pregnancy. Although it is a commonly occurring condition, sometimes it may also indicate severe underlying health conditions. Therefore, a pregnant woman should be aware of the symptoms and causes of ovary pain. In addition, she must seek the right treatment at the right time to avoid complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Is It Normal to Have Ovary Pain During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a stressful condition for the body. There can be lot many changes that can be started during the pregnancy period. Some of the changes include mild pain or discomfort in the ovaries. The pain can be felt in the lower abdominal or pelvic area, and it is usually one-sided pain.

2.

What Are the Changes to the Ovary During Pregnancy?

There is an increase in the size of the ovaries due to increased vascularity and edema, especially that contain the corpus luteum. But the corpus luteum starts to degenerate when the placenta starts to form, that is, in the tenth week of pregnancy. The corpus luteum is responsible for secreting hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin.

3.

Can the Ovary Pain Be Due to Miscarriage?

Ovary pain, in general, is not due to miscarriage. One can have ovary pain during their pregnancy because of the changes happening in them. But if there is severe pain along with bleeding, then that could be due to miscarriage. The pain in the uterus may be suggestive that the uterus is trying to expel the products from the body.

4.

What Pains Can Be There During the Initial Stages of Pregnancy?

The pain similar to the cramps during periods is normal during the initial stages of pregnancy. This is due to the changes in the hormone levels in the body and also due to the growing womb. But in some cases, the pain in the early stages of the pregnancy can also be a symptom of serious conditions like ectopic pregnancy.

5.

When Should Be Concerned With Ovary Pain?

There can be pain in the ovary during the time of ovulation which is normal. But in some cases, the pain in the ovary may be indicative of other health issues that should be considered, like endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). So consult with the doctor before taking any medication if the pain gets severe or is not resolved on its own.

6.

Do Ovaries Swell in Early Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the ovaries may look enlarged. This is due to leutoma. A leutoma is a benign growth in the ovary which happens only during pregnancy hence the ovaries look enlarged.

7.

What Does an Ovarian Pregnancy Feel Like?

When the implantation of the fertilized egg, otherwise, the embryo occurs anywhere else other than the womb is known as ectopic pregnancy. Ovarian is a type of non-tubal ectopic pregnancy. The first sign of an ectopic pregnancy is vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal pain, usually one-sided. Other than that, the patient can also experience shoulder pain and discomfort while peeing.
Dr. Richa Agarwal
Dr. Richa Agarwal

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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pregnancy
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