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Our ask and expert column is a way for women to reach out to professionals in women's health and medical fields related to pelvic mass.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pelvic mass?

Roughly 20 percent of women will develop a pelvic mass in their lifetimes. A pelvic mass is any growth on the ovary or in the pelvis. Cysts, fibroids, polyps, and tumors are all considered pelvic masses. It can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). While some pelvic masses present no symptoms beyond the presence of the mass itself, others cause:

  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abrupt weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Frequent urination

Learn more about pelvic masses in “The Pelvic Mass Workup.

What causes a pelvic mass?

Masses can be caused by a variety of gynecological issues like benign ovarian cysts or ectopic pregnancies in premenopausal women and fibroid tumors in post-menopausal women, as well as other health conditions.

How do I talk to my doctor about a pelvic mass?

Discovering a pelvic mass is something approximately one in five women will face in their lifetime. The uncertainty can be a bit uneasy, but it doesn’t have to be. Your health care team is the best source for understanding more about your pelvic mass. Here are few tips that will prepare you for your doctor’s visit:

  • Bring a family member or close friend for support
  • Ask for a full description of your mass and your likelihood of developing another mass
  • Determine the next steps and the best course of action

Still not sure how to talk to your doctor about your pelvic mass? Learn more in “The Pelvic Mass Workup.

What does a pelvic mass have to do with ovarian cancer?

Though most ovarian masses are often not cancer and go away on their own without treatment within a few menstrual cycles, some masses can be a risk factor for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer used to be termed “the silent killer” because it was believed there were no symptoms. However, studies now demonstrate that there is a link between certain symptoms and ovarian cancer. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Frequent urination

For more information, read “Your Personal Guide to Asking the Right Questions about Your Pelvic Mass.