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What is a Leaking Ovarian Cyst?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A leaking ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled pocket located in or on the ovary that has started to rupture, releasing fluid into the abdominal cavity. This can result in serious complications for the patient, and it requires prompt medical treatment. A doctor can evaluate the patient, determine the size of the cyst and the nature of the leak, and decide whether to move forward with surgery or take a more conservative approach and see if the cyst resolves on its own.

Cysts form when the follicles that develop during the menstrual cycle don't pop open to release the eggs inside. Instead, they remain in place, creating a small fluid-filled bubble. Over time, an ovarian cyst can grow quite large in some cases. Many are benign and will not cause any symptoms for the patient. Others may twist, cutting off the blood supply to part of the ovary, blocking the fallopian tube, and causing other issues. In some cases, a leaking ovarian cyst develops, releasing fluid into the abdomen.

A patient with a leaking cyst may notice pain, swelling, and tenderness. A feeling of fullness in the abdomen can be experienced and it is sometimes difficult to urinate. If symptoms like sharp pains, fever, and severe nausea and vomiting develop, they can be a sign of dangerous complications like infection. These may impair fertility for the patient and could also lead to other complications.

Palpation and medical imaging can usually reveal a leaking ovarian cyst. If the cyst is small and the leak appears contained, the doctor may recommend rest, drinking fluids, and allowing it to resolve itself. Patients may experience symptoms for a few days, but the leak will usually stop and the ovary will start to heal. In other cases, surgery to remove the cyst, and possibly the entire ovary, may be required. Doctors usually only recommend this if they think a patient is at risk of complications.

Sometimes patients experience recurrent cysts as a result of medication or chronic disease. In these patients, treatments like changes of medication or surgery may be advised to address the issue. This may end in a compromise to the patient's fertility and patients may want to discuss egg donation before treatment to have an opportunity to freeze and store eggs for future use. Storage technology for whole embryos is generally more reliable than storage of eggs alone, and patients who donate eggs before a leaking ovarian cyst surgery may want to consider having some fertilized and stored, allowing them more options in the future if they decide they want to have children.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon990496 — On Apr 24, 2015

Not necessarily. I have had one for over a year that has only grown bigger and bigger. I recently just had the worst back pain I've ever had in my life that lasted for a week. My doctor is fairly certain that my cyst had began to leak and go down and resolve itself, which is so odd because I've had to have surgery every time to resolve them.

However, I've never had one this long before so I guess it finally got tired of waiting and my body couldn't handle the pressure anymore. I still have to go in for an ultrasound to confirm but I am betting right now that it is gone. Good luck, but definitely follow your doctor's advice.

By Handycell — On Jan 15, 2014

I’ve been dealing with ovarian cysts since puberty, and for the most part I can tell when I have them but they aren’t too annoying or life changing; however, can you tell the difference between a leaking and a ruptured ovarian cyst? Is it just that a ruptured ovarian cyst will cause more pain than just a leaking one? I want to know what to look out for just in case I should experience this. I’m assuming they both mean an immediate trip to the doctor?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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