Hi, I'm female, 49. On Labor Day weekend this year I started experiencing abdominal discomfort - a feeling of intense pressure in the lower abdomen, as if something was growing in there and pressing against organs, plus gas and burping. Alarmed, I went to my doctor right away, fearing possible ovarian cancer or colon cancer. He said the symptoms didn't sound right for either of these, but when I persisted that the discomfort was completely new and different for me and I had never felt anything like it, and he saw how anxious I was, he sent me for an immediate CT scan at the hospital.
The CT scan showed absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, except a couple of fibroids in my uterus (which we knew of before) and a cyst on my right ovary. I was a bit alarmed at the cyst, because I pointed out that I've been menopausal for a couple of years, but my doctor said (and I've since read that he's right) that ovaries keep making cysts sometimes for quite a few years after menopause. I'm scheduled for my regular yearly female exam this week, so we can hopefully see if he can still feel the cyst (and I will insist on going for an ultrasound as well, to see if it's gone yet). He theorizes that the fibroids might be causing the intense pressure feeling I have -- but says they aren't really all that big.
So that was back in September. Now it's the end of October and I have had the pressure/pain symptoms off and on since then. I did have a bladder infection, we found, which we treated with Macrobid, which didn't wipe it out, so we tried Bactrim, which gave me terrible ulcer-like stomach pains, so I'm now on Cipro for another week. So it's possible the bladder infection could have caused some of the symptoms -- but I'm currently ON the Cipro and I've been waking up with a terrible heavy pressure feeling in my lower abdomen for the past week or so.
This feeling - as if my lower abdomen is in a tight girdle or locked in a vise that's INSIDE me -- now won't go away. It's the weirdest feeling. I walk around with it all the time and it's extremely bothersome, and I worry about it all the time. Sometimes it goes all the way around to my back. It's not pain, just strong pressure. I have not had nausea, and my bowel movements have alternated between kind of loose and very hard over the past couple of months -- but I've still managed to have at least one once a day. I do feel a sense of urgency when I "go," and then some relief after (which doesn't last too long - the feeling of pressure invariably comes back in an hour or so). Then sometimes I will get cramping, gripping abdominal pain that will linger in the lower abdomen for a day or so and then slowly move up to the upper abdomen -- and sort of sit in the stomach area for a while before slowly going away over a day or so. It's not debilitating stabbing pain -- I can still drive and go to work and concentrate, but it's always there and it's bothersome and distracting, and it wears on me. Then after the pain is finally gone, the area remains a bit tender for the next couple of days.
My doctor says none of this is remotely a classic symptom for cancer, either ovarian or colon, which is my big fear. But what ELSE could be causing this feeling of pressure and weight day after day? He hasn't mentioned IBS and has referred me to a gastroenterologist. Does this sound like IBS to any of you? The MOST worrisome symptom to me is the girdle-like pressure feeling -- it's the oddest darn feeling I have ever had. If someone told me I had a 20-pound tumor inside my abdomen causing this, I would believe them. But the CT scan would have showed anything like that, right?? I suppose it's possible that the ovarian cyst has grown large over the past month or so, but hopefully we will know more about that once I have my Well Woman exam and insist on an ultrasound to see what's happened with the cyst. Also, the pressure-like feeling seems to be relieved a little when I take Phazyme or Gas-X, so I wonder if it's just a bunch of gas backed up in there? But how could that be?? Please let me know if any of this sounds like it could be IBS, or if I will need to keep looking and worrying about possible cancer...?
Find out what type of ovarian cyst you have and how large (ie. simple or complex cyst). Get a copy of the radiologist's report in order to see what the radiologist thinks (this is very important). You should also have a follow up ultrasound done to see if the cyst has grown, regressed or changed in any way. Although it is true that many postmenopausal women have cysts on their ovaries (much more than they used to think), it would not hurt to keep an eye on it.
The pressure that you are feeling may very well be due to the bladder infection. In addition to the antibiotics, have you also implimented other habits such as drinking cranberry juice, lots of water, taking baths in baking soda and cutting out caffeinated and sugary drinks ? These things help a lot for this type of infection. Of course you also need to wipe from front to back when you use the toilet as this keeps the harmful bacteria away from your urinary tract. You may also want to consider taking probiotics to protect your colon from all of those antibiotics that you are taking (they also reduce the numbers of harmful bacteria that can eventually travel to your urinary tract). Antibiotics kill indiscriminately and may upset the balance of flora in your gut. You need to replenish this balance by ingesting probiotics, either in yoghurt with active bacterial cultures or in pill form (which you should store in the fridge).
I am very familiar with both ovarian cysts and with urinary tract and bladder infections. I am also quite familiar with this pressure feeling that you are describing. In my personal case, I was found to have an 8 cm simple cyst on my left ovary which I have been watching with regular ultrasounds every six months (it has been over a year now). When I began to have this pressure feeling I was also bleeding (I am premenopausal) irregularly and it was found to be due to the pill which was causing my uterine lining to bleed. When I stopped the pill I still had this pressure feeling for quite some time and eventually I had it off and on and now I hardly ever feel it. However, I STILL have the ovarian cyst as far as I know (my last US was in August). Therefore in my case, the pressure feeling had nothing to do with the cyst.
Try a strict diet change to see if this might be the culprit. Cut out dairy products for a while to see if this changes anything. Reduce meat intake and increase fibre (fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes such as lentils and beans). Also, drink lots of water (about 6-7 glasses a day) especially with meals and add the probiotics. If these things make a difference then you know that it has something to do with your digestive system. If the pressure feeling goes away at the same time as your bladder infection then you will know that THIS was the culprit. At the same time, schedule another ultrasound to keep an eye on that cyst. Also, if you have trouble getting your doctor to listen to you, find another one (if you can) and get another opinion on the matter.
Unfortunately, we must all become our own best advocates in these days of complicated health care. Take care and hang in there .. I am sure you will find a solution to your problem very soon.
And THANKS for all the rest of your advice and suggestions! The cyst was 2.5 cm in September - I thought it was not that big of a deal till it was pointed out to me that that's about the size of my ovary. Of course, as with your experience, I know they can grow quite a bit bigger. My doc said that from the CT report he gleaned the cyst was "probably simple" -- that the radiologist thought it was "nothing much to worry about or he would have said more." Hmm. (Like I trust these guys and today's medical merry-go-round to be complete reporters of anything...!) I am going in to my exam tomorrow with lots of questions and I will not take vague answers for an answer. I want to follow up on this cyst very completely. I forgot to add that aside from the abdominal pressure-pain, I actually feel pretty good - very energetic, no fatigue. The pain does get annoying and bothersome after a while -- today it seems to have settled in the lower right quadrant, which is right where that ovarian cyst happens to be. But yesterday it was throughout my lower abdomen and around to my back. I try to carry on and just forget it's there, but arrggh. I want to get to the bottom of it. Hopefully I can find out more, or begin to find out more, at my Well Woman exam tomorrow. And I definitely am going to insist on a TUS. Thank you so much again!
Yes both baking soda and salt are disinfectants so either one will help to kill of the bacteria that is causing the UTI or bladder infection. Baking soda also has the added side effect of making your skin feel really soft and smooth.
A 2.5 cm simple cyst, if this is indeed what you have, is absolutely nothing to worry about. Semantics between what is a cyst and what is a follicle are quite interesting. A follicle is usually anything that is 2 cms or less and a cyst is anything larger than this. Normal follicular cysts can grow to as large as about 5 cm and sometimes even larger. You are well within the normal limits so I would not let this worry you unnecessarily. Still a follow up would not hurt. My doctor has told me to do this when I am on my period (for the exterior ultrsound that is .. the interior one would cause quite a mess if you are menstruating so perhaps just after your bleeding has stopped is recommended). This is to avoid seeing any normal follicular cysts. Your cycle begins with your period so this is when you are the least likely to see cysts.
I hope you find the answer to your problem soon. Hang in there !