As the fifth most common cancer among women, ovarian cancer is commonly nicknamed “the silent killer”
among women over the age of 55.
Though by no means linked uniquely to postmenopausal women, ovarian cancer is highly aggressive,
and, according to doctors, incredibly difficult to detect. Mother Erin Barret only happened to discover she had
ovarian cancer because she was pregnant.
We are well-versed in the cancer symptoms that absolutely cannot be ignored (as we hope you are, too)
— but when looking at gynecological cancers, many of these universal cancer symptoms may sound quite
general and vague.
Nevertheless, we’ll learn more about the 10 most common symptoms that women may experience,
in an exclusive look below.
These symptoms can occur during both the earliest and more advanced stages of detection,
and can range from intense abdominal and pelvic pains, to irregular menstrual cycles and even excessive hair growth.
Scroll down to go through the list, and please make sure to consult your doctor if you are experiencing
severe forms of any of the following symptoms.
1. Pain In Lower Abdomen Or Pelvic Region
If you are experiencing pain in the lower abdominal region, or if you feel a heaviness in your pelvic region on a
daily basis, you should check with your doctor to understand the causes of these symptoms.
Pelvic pain is a symptom that affects many women and can be caused by a wide variety of conditions and diseases,
from endometriosis or fibroids to more serious conditions, like an ectopic pregnancy or cancer.
Women typically describe it as a dull ache or pressure that may or may not include sharp
pains located anywhere in the abdomen below the navel.
The pain may be intermittent or constant and can be accompanied by other symptoms,
such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, lower back pain, and vaginal discharge.
One commenter on health website eMedicineHealth says:
I suddenly felt bloating in my abdomen and felt like something moving around.
My mistook it for gas and treated me for gastritis. I developed a sharp pain near my diaphragm.
She then visited a gynecologist, who, after conducting an ultrasound, detected ovarian cancer.
2. Very Abnormal Menstrual Cycles
Statistically, more women over the age of 55 are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
However, you don’t need to be post-menopausal in order to develop ovarian cancer.
According to Healthline, gynecological cancers can occur in younger women, too
— even in those who haven’t had their first periods yet.
The duration and severity of menstrual bleeding varies from woman to woman. It’s known as menorrhagia if a woman’s menstrual period is excessively heavy, prolonged, or irregular.
Symptoms of menorrhagia include a menstrual period that lasts longer than seven days, and bleeding is so heavy that you must change your tampon or pad more than once per hour. You should see your doctor if you have excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual periods that interfere with your daily life.
Excessive bleeding can cause anemia, or iron deficiency, and may signal an underlying medical condition. In most cases, a doctor can successfully treat abnormal periods.
If you are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, or a drastic change in your menstrual cycle, it’s best to let your doctor know so that further tests can be done.
3. Nausea And Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting, like all the other symptoms listed in this guide, can indicate a variety of problems.
It frequently goes hand-in-hand with other symptoms, like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, according to WebMD.
According to gynecologist Jeffrey L. Stern, M.D., advanced cases of ovarian cancer can often result in the blockage of the intestines, causing severe nausea, abdominal pain, and weight loss.
Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions such as:
- Motion sickness or seasickness
- Early stages of pregnancy (nausea occurs in approximately 50%-90% of all pregnancies; vomiting in 25%-55%)
- Medication-induced vomiting
- Intense pain
- Emotional stress (such as fear)
- Gallbladder disease
- Food poisoning
- Infections (such as the “stomach flu”)
- A reaction to certain smells or odors
- Heart attack
- Concussion or brain injury
- Brain tumor
- Some forms of cancer
- Bulimia or other psychological illnesses
- Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying (a condition that can be seen in people with diabetes)
- Ingestion of toxins or excessive amounts of alcohol
- Bowel obstruction
The causes of vomiting differ according to age. For children, it is common for vomiting to occur from a viral infection, food poisoning, milk allergy, motion sickness, overeating or feeding, coughing, or blocked intestines and illnesses in which the child has a high fever.
4. Back pain
There can be many causes for back pain. But if you know for certain that you are not suffering from any physical ailments and discomforts — like ligament strain, osteoporosis, arthritis, or skeletal irregularities — then it’s best to get checked out by your doctor.
Although it’s a symptom that’s common in women who don’t have ovarian cancer, back pain can be cause for concern, according to MedlinePlus.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work, and it is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Most people have back pain at least once.
Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent or relieve most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home treatment and proper body mechanics often will heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional. Surgery is rarely needed to treat back pain.
Signs and symptoms of back pain can include:
- Muscle ache
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Pain that radiates down your leg
- Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
- Pain that improves with reclining
When to see a doctor
Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within a few weeks. If yours doesn’t improve in that time, see your doctor.
In rare cases, back pain can signal a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain:
Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or excessive drug or alcohol use.
5. If You Feel Full Easily
“Early satiety,” or feeling full too quickly when you eat, is one of the four most noticeable and common symptoms of ovarian cancer
It could be easy to mistake this symptom as a digestive order — but unlike illnesses caused by the digestive track, ovarian cancer will see a worsening of symptoms, says Medical News Today.
6. Painful Sex
Pain during intercourse may be another strong indicator that you are in an earlier stage of ovarian cancer, according to Medical News Today.
This is linked to pain and pressure in the pelvic region, and the need to urinate more urgently and frequently.
Pain during sex happens to women for many different reasons, including physical problems, gynecological conditions, and emotional issues.
Emotions that inhibit arousal and interfere with lubrication can make intercourse painful, especially if those emotions make it difficult to relax.
Shyness, embarrassment, sexual anxiety, and a lack of body confidence are just a few causes of emotions that might get in the way of a normal physical response.
Shifting hormones is another thing that can disrupt your body’s sexual response and make intercourse uncomfortable.
Low estrogen levels mean that women are more likely to experience vaginal dryness — and painful intercourse — as they approach menopause, but menopause isn’t the only time a woman’s estrogen levels might decline.
Some women experience vaginal dryness and painful intercourse following childbirth, as their hormone levels slowly recover; breastfeeding mothers may experience similar symptoms for as long as they continue to nurse.
Receiving treatment for breast or ovarian cancer also can affect estrogen levels and lead to painful sex.
No matter what painful sex may indicate, it’s best to alert your doctor to the symptom as fast as you can.
7. Excessive Fatigue
Along with breathlessness, nausea, and an increased loss of appetite, extreme fatigue is one of the symptoms that a patient at a progressed stage of ovarian cancer may see.
More than 80% of women do experience at least one symptom of ovarian cancer a few months before getting diagnosed, according to Medical News Today.
That’s why it’s so important to study your own body. Don’t wait for more than three months after experiencing an odd symptom to get checked out, like 17% of women do.
Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It isn’t the same as simply feeling drowsy or sleepy. When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation and no energy. Being sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.
Fatigue is a common symptom of many medical conditions, which range in severity from mild to serious. It’s also a natural result of some lifestyle choices, such as lack of exercise or poor diet.
If your fatigue doesn’t resolve with proper rest and nutrition, or you suspect it’s caused by an underlying physical or mental health condition, see your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your fatigue and work with you to treat it.
8. Bloating Belly
Bloating is one of the most noted warning signs of ovarian cancer, along with general abdominal pain.
Famously, cancer patient Wendie Webb had a bloated stomach so large that it looked like she was pregnant. In the end, doctors removed her 13-pound tumor and eventually declared her cancer-free.
If bloating persists for days, or even weeks, consult your doctor. Don’t risk confusing it as a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome!
One common cause of bloating is constipation.
“A lot of people don’t even know they’re constipated,” – Lee says.
While having fewer bowel movements than you normally do is a symptom of constipation, you may still be constipated even if you have regular bowel movements. Other symptoms of constipation include:
- Straining to start or finish a bowel movement
- Stool that looks like rocks and pebbles
- Not feeling empty after a bowel movement
Constipation can contribute to abdominal pain and bloating. “The longer your stool sits in your colon, the more time bacteria have to ferment what’s there,” says Lee.
“You’re going to get gassier, and you’re going to feel a lot more bloated.”
9. Dark And Coarse Hair Growth
Coarse hair on the head can be normal, hereditary, and, in many cases, desired. Hair product manufacturers specifically advertise products that add volume and thickness to hair, both of which are components of coarse hair.
Concern over coarse hair is typically minimal, however, when coarse hair begins to grow unexpectedly, other factors may be in play.
Coarse Hair Causes
Most people have hair covering one or more parts of their body. In fact, hair growth on people occurs on all but a handful of places on the human body. If your normal hair is coarse, it is likely due to genetics. If your hair is not typically coarse, but coarse hairs are beginning to appear, there are several potential causes.
Hereditary coarse hair causes:
- Family Tree: Your family background and ethnicity influence your hair texture in different ways.
- Systemic Disease: Unusual hair texture may also result from inherited genetic syndromes.
10. Frequent Constipation
your poop gets harder and more difficult to pass.
What Are the Symptoms?
You may have:
- Few bowel movements
- Trouble having a bowel movement (straining to go)
- Hard or small stools
- A sense that everything didn’t come out
- Belly bloating
You also may feel like you need help to empty your bowels, such as pressing on your belly or using a finger to remove stool from your bottom.
Why Does It Happen?
Some causes of constipation include:
- Changes to what you eat or your activities
- Not enough water or fiber in your diet
- Eating a lot of dairy products
- Not being active
- Resisting the urge to poop
- Overuse of laxatives
- Some medications (especially strong pain drugs such as narcotics, antidepressants, and iron pills)
- Antacid medicines that have calcium or aluminum
- Eating disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Problems with the nerves and muscles in your digestive system
- Colon cancer
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
- Underactive thyroid (called hypothyroidism)
What Should I Do If I Am Constipated?
Take these steps:
- Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day, unless your doctor told you to limit fluids for another reason.
- Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Eat prunes and bran cereal.
- Exercise most days of the week. When you move your body, the muscles in your intestines are more active, too.
- Don’t ignore the urge to poop.
Are you going to be checking your body for irregularities from now on? If YES let us
know in the comment section below and Please SHARE this important information with all
those who may have been experiencing symptoms!