What causes an enlarged ovary?

An enlarged ovary may be caused by one of many types of ovarian cysts, including those that can form with polycystic ovarian syndrome. No matter the type, the cysts can grow, increasing the size of the affected ovary or of both affected ovaries. Often ovarian cysts remain dormant and do not cause symptoms. However, in some cases, the enlarged ovary may twist or become dysfunctional. Ovarian cancer and benign tumors may also lead to an enlarged ovary.

Common causes of an enlarged ovary

Common causes of an enlarged ovary include:

  • Corpus luteum cyst (cyst present in the second half of the menstrual cycle)
  • Dermoid cyst (benign tumor also known as a teratoma)
  • Follicle cyst (cyst that forms during the menstrual cycle)
  • Endometrioma (endometriosis affecting the ovary)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (condition than can include multiple cysts in the ovaries)

Other causes of an enlarged ovary

Enlarged ovary can also be the result of other causes including:

  • Congenital abnormality
  • Metastatic cancer
  • Nonmalignant tumor
  • Ovarian cancer

Serious or life-threatening causes of anenlarged ovary

In some cases, enlarged ovary may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include ovarian torsion (twisting of the ovary) that results in a compromised blood supply.

Questions for diagnosing the cause of an enlarged ovary

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your enlarged ovary including:

  • When did you first notice discomfort or pain?
  • Do you feel any pain or discomfort now?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of an enlarged ovary?

Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:


  1. Ovarian cysts. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ovariancysts.html.
  2. Ovarian cysts fact sheet. WomensHealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/ovarian-cysts.html.

What is an enlarged ovary?

An enlarged ovary is an ovary that has expanded past its normal size. The cause of this enlargement is often cyst formation. Other causes include endometriosis, benign tumors and, rarely, ovarian cancer.

... Read more about enlarged ovaryintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with an enlarged ovary?

Enlarged ovary may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the ovaries may also involve other body systems. In some cases, an enlarged ovary may not produce any symptoms.

Pelvic symptoms that may occur along with an enlarged ovary

Pelvic symptoms may accompany enlarged ovary includi... Read more about enlarged ovarysymptoms

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 16, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.