Ovarian torsion: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Ovarian torsion or Torsion of an ovary is a medical condition that occurs when there is twisting or rotation of the blood vessels that supplies or drains blood from the ovaries or the ligaments that holds the ovary in place. When this happens, it compresses and cuts off the blood supply to the ovaries, and this can cause very severe pain which can ultimately lead to death/damage of the ovaries.

Ovarian Torsion
Twisting of the Ovarian vessels seen in Torsion of the Ovary. Image Credits: Health Bazaar

Ovarian torsion commonly affects one ovary at a time but it does not mean that both ovaries cannot be affected at the same time.

Causes of Ovarian Torsion

The causes of Ovarian torsion could be due to;

  1. Enlargement of the ovary as is seen in the presence of an ovarian cyst.
  2. it can also be caused as a result of a dermoid cysts.

Symptoms of Ovarian Torsion

Persons with ovarian torsion would show any of the following symptoms;

  • lower abdominal pain that starts suddenly.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • Abnormal Bleeding

Torsion of the ovaries is one of the commonest causes of acute pelvic pain.

Note: do not confuse these signs with those of ectopic pregnancies. read ectopic pregnancy here.

See also:

Treatment of Ovarian Torsion

Anyone with this condition should see a doctor immediately. Some investigations, such as an abdomino-pelvic ultrasound scan might be requested to ensure that you indeed have the condition, and also verify the cause of the torsion.

Torsion of a normal ovary is very unlikely.

The only treatment options for ovarian torsion is by surgery. Emergency surgical treatment is required to untwist the ovary and restore blood flow, and any ovarian cyst, if noticed should then be removed. This would be done by a gynaecologist.

Surgery for Ovarian Torsion by Laparascopy

This should be done without delay, to prevent complications that may arise.

Complications of Ovarian Torsion

Any delay in the treatment of an ovarian torsion could lead to infarction and gangrene (that is death/rottening) may result, which would require the removal of the rotten ovary.

Can Ovarian Torsion Kill You?

For now, there has been no report of any person that died from torsion of the ovary. The worst complications that could arise from torsion of the ovary is the loss of the ovary or fallopian tube or both from rottening (necrosis), due to the loss of blood supply.

Does Ovarian Torsion Cause Fertility

When cases of torsion of the ovary are left untreated for a long time, it can lead to necrosis of the ovary as explained before, and this can in turn lead to problems with fertility. This is possibly due to the fact that they do not ovulate as frequently as when they had two ovaries. Regardless, most women still ovulate normally, conceive and have a normal pregnancy despite having a single functional ovary and falopian tube.

Always ensure you see a doctor whenever you have any form of pain, whether it just started suddenly, or if it has been there for a long time. This would help to prevent the development of unwanted complications.

Feel free to ask any questions below.


  • Anekwe Bethel Onyedikachi attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH in Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State, Nigeria

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