A ruptured ovarian cyst usually isn’t a medical emergency or cause for concern. You can typically manage symptoms with over-the-counter pain medication.
If you experience a ruptured ovarian cyst, you can expect to feel sudden abdominal pain or pelvic pain.
The most common type of ovarian cyst happens when you ovulate: The cyst ruptures (or bursts) to release the egg. In some cases, this can feel painful, but it isn’t a cause for concern, and the pain usually goes away on its own.
Symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cyst may also include:
- bleeding from the vagina
- feeling faint
- tenderness in the pelvic or abdominal area
Ovarian cysts might also rupture without producing any symptoms at all.
Usually, a ruptured ovarian cyst isn’t a medical emergency.
If you experience sudden pelvic or abdominal pain, you can usually manage this at home with over-the-counter pain medication and a warm compress. Resting might also help.
However, if you have severe pelvic pain — especially pain that makes it difficult to do your typical daily activities — you should make an appointment to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
If the pain is excruciating or consistent, you should go to the emergency room.
You should also visit the emergency room if you have pelvic or abdominal pain accompanied by other unusual symptoms, such as a fever or lower back pain. These symptoms may be caused by another condition — one that may need treatment.
When in doubt, it’s best to get a medical professional to diagnose the cause and suggest a treatment program if needed.
It’s not always easy to tell if an ovarian cyst has ruptured. Other conditions may also cause symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cyst.
The most notable sign of a ruptured ovarian cyst is sudden abdominal or pelvic pain.
However, the only way to be sure that it’s caused by a cyst is to go to a healthcare professional. Usually, an ovarian cyst (ruptured or unruptured) can be diagnosed by ultrasound.
If you’re experiencing severe pain, your clinician might use several tests to determine the cause. This can include:
- pregnancy test
- blood test
- urine test
These tests can help them determine whether another condition is causing your pain, such as a kidney infection, ectopic pregnancy, or endometriosis.
Most ruptured ovarian cysts aren’t harmful and don’t cause complications.
However, in some situations, a ruptured cyst may be accompanied by heavy blood loss. In this case, you might need to be admitted to the hospital for observation, as it can signify hemoperitoneum.
Hemoperitoneum is internal bleeding affecting the peritoneal cavity between the lining of the abdominal wall and your internal organs.
You might need laparoscopic surgery to stop the bleeding and pain.
A ruptured ovarian cyst can cause pain and discomfort. Usually, you can manage this pain at home.
You can try the following:
- over-the-counter pain medication
- a warm compress, such as a hot water bottle
- resting in certain yoga poses
- gently massaging your stomach
Over time, the pain usually dissipates. If it’s persistent or severe, seek medical help.
You should go to the emergency room if the pain is excruciating, especially if it doesn’t go away with pain medication, or repetitive — that is, if you feel it often.
Pelvic pain can be caused by something other than ruptured ovarian cysts. It’s not always easy to tell whether the pain is caused by an ovarian cyst or another condition, like an infection.
As such, you should also visit the emergency room if you have pelvic or abdominal pain that’s accompanied by:
- dull aches in your lower back
- fainting or dizziness
- fever and chills
- frequent urination
- heavy bleeding
- pain while urinating
- pain on the lower right side of your abdomen or around your belly button, which could suggest appendicitis
- unusual or foul-smelling vaginal discharge
In some cases, the above symptoms could be signs of other health conditions, some of which might require immediate medical attention.
Ovarian cysts usually go away on their own, but if the pain is significant, your clinician might suggest a course of treatment.
This could involve:
- oral contraceptives, which can prevent the development of new cysts (if you frequently get ovarian cysts)
- a laparoscopy which involves making a tiny incision to surgically remove the cyst
- a laparotomy, which might be necessary if the cyst is large or if you’re at risk of ovarian cancer
A clinician will discuss treatment options and help you weigh the potential risks and benefits.
Is surgery necessary after an ovarian cyst rupture?
No. In fact, most ovarian cyst ruptures don’t require clinical treatment — the symptoms usually go away without complications.
However, a healthcare professional might suggest surgery if you have a cyst that doesn’t go away or is causing complications.
How long does it take to recover from a ruptured ovarian cyst?
It can take a few hours to a few days for the discomfort to go away. If the pain gets worse or doesn’t go away, contact a medical professional.
However, if you have a complex ruptured ovarian cyst, you may need to stay in the hospital for one or more days.
Can ovarian cysts rupture more than once?
Ovarian cysts usually only rupture once. Once they burst, they release the fluid. However, it’s possible to have multiple cysts at once or to develop another cyst once one has ruptured.
What causes an ovarian cyst to rupture?
Ovarian cysts can rupture as a natural part of your menstrual cycle. Most ovarian cysts occur and rupture during ovulation when they burst open and release an egg.
However, ovarian cysts can also rupture if you’ve engaged in strenuous activity, such as rigorous exercise or penetrative sex.
Although ovarian cysts aren’t always a cause for concern, they might be a sign of another condition, like endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome.
A ruptured ovarian cyst can cause sudden abdominal and pelvic pain. While this may be painful, ruptured cysts usually heal without medical intervention.
However, if you’re experiencing extreme pain and other unexplained symptoms, it’s best to visit the emergency room. Pelvic and abdominal pain can be symptoms of other conditions.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.