Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to the body. Some of those changes can cause mild discomfort or light cramping in the area around your ovaries. Ovary pain may cause pain on one side of your lower abdominal or pelvic area. It can also sometimes cause pain in the back or thigh.
Ovary pain may be a sign that implantation is occurring, or it could be a response to the change in hormones that you’ll experience in early pregnancy.
Any serious ovary pain should be reported to your doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if you’re pregnant and experience sharp or long-lasting pain accompanied by:
- vaginal bleeding
- feeling faint
Read on to learn more about causes for ovary pain in early pregnancy and when to seek medical help.
The following may cause pain in the area of your ovaries in early pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than the inside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.
- sharp or stabbing pain, usually on one side of the pelvis or abdomen
- vaginal bleeding that’s heavier or lighter than your normal period
- weakness, dizziness, or fainting
- gastrointestinal or stomach discomfort
Seek medical help right away if you think you’re experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are not viable, and, left untreated, may result in a ruptured fallopian tube or other serious complications.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks.
Possible symptoms include:
- vaginal bleeding
- pelvic pain, low back pain, or abdominal pain
- passing tissue or discharge through the vagina
Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing miscarriage symptoms. There’s no way to stop a miscarriage, but in some cases, medication or surgery is needed to prevent complications.
Most ovarian cysts are asymptomatic and harmless. But cysts that continue to grow can rupture or twist, or cause complications during pregnancy and delivery.
Symptoms may include:
- pelvic pain, which may be isolated to one side
- abdominal fullness, heaviness, or bloating
- pain with fever or vomiting
Seek medical help if you have sharp or stabbing pain, especially with fever or vomiting. You should also let your OB-GYN know if you have a known ovarian cyst. They may want to monitor the cyst throughout your pregnancy.
Ovarian rupture and torsion
An ovarian rupture is a medical emergency. It can cause internal bleeding.
Ovarian torsion is also a medical emergency where a large cyst causes an ovary to twist or move from its original position. This can cut off blood supply to the ovary.
Symptoms of a rupture or torsion may include:
- severe or sharp pelvic pain, sometimes isolated to one side
- rapid breathing
Always let the hospital staff know if you’re pregnant and all your symptoms. You may need an ultrasound or MRI. Your doctor can then determine if surgery is necessary or recommend alternative treatment options.
Other possible causes
Other causes of pain near your ovaries during early pregnancy may include:
- gastrointestinal or stomach issues
- stretching of the uterus
Let your doctor know about your symptoms at your first pregnancy appointment.
Is it a sign of implantation?
Implantation occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the interior lining of the uterus. It typically occurs 6 to 12 days after conception. Implantation occurs before you are far enough along to have a positive pregnancy test.
Cramps around the time when implantation would occur could be an early sign of pregnancy, but until you’ve had a positive pregnancy test, it’s impossible to know if the cramps are a sign of pregnancy or an impending menstrual period.
If your period doesn’t start when expected, take a pregnancy test three days to one week later to confirm pregnancy.
Let your doctor know if you have sharp or chronic ovarian pain on one or both sides that doesn’t go away on its own. You may need emergency medical care, especially if you have sharp or chronic pain along with one or more of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- high fever
- feeling faint
Ovarian pain during pregnancy that doesn’t go away on its own may need to be treated by a doctor.
But if your doctor does not recommend any medical treatment for your pain, you may be able to manage mild discomfort at home.
- Change positions slowly, especially when going from sitting to standing. That can help reduce incidence of pain.
- Get plenty of rest, and change or reduce your workout routine if you experience discomfort related to exercise.
- Soak in a warm (not hot) bath.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Apply gentle pressure to the sore area.
Many pain relievers aren’t safe to take during early pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before taking medication to manage pain.
You should also talk to you doctor before applying heat, such as from a hot compress. Too much heat could cause serious birth defects.
Treatment will depending on the underlying cause. In some cases, you may not need treatment.
For treatment of an ovarian cyst, your doctor will take into account factors like the size of the cyst, whether or not it has ruptured or twisted, and how far along you are in your pregnancy. They will make a treatment recommendation that will give you and your baby the healthiest outcome possible.
In some cases, surgery can be safely performed during pregnancy. Your healthcare team will tell you about the risks and possible outcomes based on your circumstances.
If your pain is caused by an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor will likely prescribe the medication methotrexate. This drug can stop the growth of rapidly dividing cells, such as the cells of the ectopic mass. If medication doesn’t work, surgery may be necessary.
If you are having a miscarriage, you may be able to pass the pregnancy at home. In other cases, you may need medication to help you pass the tissue from the pregnancy loss or you may need a procedure known as dilation and curettage (D and C). D and C is a minor surgery that can be used to remove the tissue from the lost pregnancy.
Always let your doctor know if you are experiencing ovarian pain during pregnancy.
Seek emergency medical care for sharp or stabbing pain that doesn’t go away on its own, and let the hospital staff know you are pregnant. Your doctor and healthcare team can come up with a treatment plan for the healthiest outcome.