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Enlarged Ovaries – Symptoms – Causes – Treatment


Enlarged Ovaries


What is an enlarged ovary?

An enlarged ovary is a descriptive way to refer to an ovary that has expanded beyond its normal size. The enlargement is often caused by cyst formation besides other causes like endometriosis, benign tumors and seldom ovarian cancer.

Based on the cause, an ovary may get enlarged in one or both ovaries. This may provoke symptoms in certain body parts, for example, fever, abdominal pain, or unintentional body weight changes. 

Enlarged ovaries hardly get severe. However, in case of serious symptoms such as severe abdominal pain or 101 degrees Fahrenheit high fever, seek emergency medical care.

What are the Symptoms of an Enlarged Ovary

 Pelvic symptoms that may accompany an enlarged ovary include:

·       Abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain. They can be severe and make urination difficult (dysuria) as well as urinary retention.

·       Heavy menstrual period bleeding (menorrhagia): This causes severe menstrual pain. 

·       Urgent need to urinate

·       Missed menstrual periods

·       Pain during sexual intercourse

·       Abnormal vaginal bleeding

·       Breast pain

·       Body aches, especially thigh pain

·       Loss of appetite

·       Constipation

·       Nausea with or with no vomiting

·       Indigestion

·       Unintentional weight gain

Symptoms that Might Indicate a Severe Condition

If you or someone you know is suffering from any serious symptom of an enlarged ovary, such as below, seek emergency medical evaluation/care. 

      Severe, sudden abdominal pain

·       Prolonged vomiting

·       High fever (high above 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

What Causes an Enlarged Ovary?

Ovarian Cysts: The cause of an enlarged ovary may be one of many types of ovarian cysts, such as those that can be formed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Irrespective of the type, the cysts can develop, increasing the affected ovary’s size or of both affected ovaries. Most often, ovarian cysts are dormant and cause no symptoms. However, in certain cases, the enlarged ovary may either twist or become dysfunctional. 

Ovarian Cancer and Benign Tumors: Conditions like ovarian cancer and benign tumors may cause an enlarged ovary as well.

 Ovulation: When an ovary releases an egg for fertilization, it’s called ovulation. The process of ovulation can cause hormones to over-stimulate the ovaries and cause them to enlarge temporarily, especially if the woman is taking fertility drugs. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This syndrome is a common condition and occurs when a hormonal imbalance leads to the development of small cysts on the ovaries.

Women with PCOS may end up with irregular periods and fertility difficulties, as the ovaries may fail to release eggs regularly. PCOS can also result in weight gain and extended body hair growth. 

Ovarian Edema: This condition is rare and happens due to fluid buildup in the ovarian tissue. In most cases, ovarian edema affects only a single ovary.

The cause of Ovarian Edema may be the blockage of blood flow and prevention of lymph fluid from the drainage by partial ovarian torsion, causing ovary enlargement.

Ovarian Torsion: Ovarian torsion happens when the ovary becomes partly or completely rotated around the supporting tissues. When this happens, it’s a medical emergency.

Ovarian torsion blocks blood flow to the ovary, resulting in significant nausea, vomiting, and pelvic pain. The treatment involves immediate surgery to remedy the rotation for blood flow to resume.

Common Causes of  Enlarged Ovaries

Common causes of an enlarged ovary include:

·       Corpus luteum cyst (cyst present in the second half of the menstrual cycle)

·       Dermoid cyst (benign tumor also known as a teratoma)

·       Follicle cyst (cyst that forms during the menstrual cycle)

·       Endometrioma (endometriosis affecting the ovary)

·       Polycystic ovarian syndrome (condition than can include multiple cysts in the ovaries)

Other causes of an enlarged ovary

·       Metastatic cancer

·       Congenital abnormality

·       Nonmalignant tumor

·       Ovarian cancer

What are the Possible Treatment Methods for Enlarged Ovaries

Treatment for enlarged ovaries depends on the underlying cause. A good example is steps for managing PCOS, which may include:

Weight Loss: Reducing even 10 percent of your body weight can help reduce the symptoms of enlarged ovaries and regularized periods 

Taking hormonal birth control pills: Doing so can help regulate your menstrual cycle.

Also, treating ovarian cancer may involve the removal of the ovaries and surrounding tissue affected by the disease.

Your doctor may also recommend chemotherapy. It helps kill cancer cells. Besides, radiation treatments can minimize the size of the tumors before their removal.

When it comes to enlarged ovaries connected to the menstrual cycle, there is no need for treatment unless they generate uncomfortable symptoms.

Once a qualified doctor diagnoses the underlying cause of your enlarged ovaries, it is important that you follow the treatment plan your health care professional  designs for you.

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