Ovarian torsion can cause severe pain and other symptoms because the ovary is not receiving enough blood. If the blood restriction continues for too long, it can lead to tissue death.

Ovarian torsion usually affects only one ovary. Doctors may also call this condition adnexal torsion.


Symptoms of ovarian torsion can include the following:

  • an adnexal or pelvic mass
  • nausea
  • severe pelvic pain
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abnormal bleeding

However, diagnosing ovarian torsion can be challenging because the symptoms are similar to those of kidney stones, appendicitis, a urinary tract infection, gastroenteritis, and other conditions.

When to see a doctor

It is essential to seek medical attention if a person has any of the symptoms of ovarian torsion.

To diagnose ovarian torsion, a doctor may use the following tests:

  • A transvaginal ultrasound, which involves inserting a small ultrasound probe into the vagina.
  • An abdominal ultrasound, which uses an ultrasound probe on the outside of the abdomen.
  • Other imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI scan.
  • A complete blood count test, or CBC, which can measure the number of white blood cells in the body.

However, a doctor cannot fully confirm the ovarian torsion without performing surgery to see the ovary.

People between the ages of 20 and 40 years old are most likely to experience ovarian torsion.

However, women of all ages, from infancy to post-menopause, can experience ovarian torsion.

Sometimes, the presence of a cyst or other tissue mass in the ovary can displace it. The extra weight or mass on the ovary can cause it to start to twist and rotate around its supporting ligaments.

Another common cause is an ovarian ligament, connecting the ovary to the uterus, that is longer than usual. A longer ovarian ligament makes ovarian torsion more likely.

Assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as inducing ovulation, are another factor that can increase the risk for ovarian torsion.

Pregnant women can experience ovarian torsion as well as those who are not pregnant. In the first trimester, women may have corpus luteum cysts that cause the ovary to twist.

Higher hormone levels during pregnancy can also relax tissues in the body, including the ligaments that hold the ovaries in place. If the ligaments are not taut, they may be more prone to twisting.

People who undergo ART have a much greater risk of experiencing ovarian torsion than those who do not.

The elevated risk is usually due to the hormones required for in vitro fertilization or ovulation induction.

These hormones may cause the ovaries to enlarge, develop multiple cysts, or both. While ovarian cysts are usually harmless, they can increase the risk of ovarian torsion.

While ART can be a successful treatment when a person has problems conceiving, people should always discuss the possible risks with a doctor and seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of ovarian torsion.


One possible complication of ovarian torsion is necrosis. Ovarian necrosis refers to the death of ovarian tissue due to blood loss. A doctor will remove the affected ovary surgically if this happens.

Surgery for ovarian necrosis can affect fertility, as the ovaries produce and release eggs for fertilization.

However, if a doctor does not remove the ovary, a person will be at risk of ovarian infections that can cause an abscess or peritonitis.

It is essential for anyone who experiences ovarian torsions to go to follow-up appointments to ensure the ovary is healing well and receiving enough blood.


According to the American Pediatric Surgical Association, ovarian torsion is the fifth most common medical emergency involving the female reproductive organs.

If a person seeks urgent medical attention and undergoes surgery to reduce the torsion, there are unlikely to be further complications.

However, if ovarian torsion has restricted blood flow to the ovary for too long, or the person has a cyst or tumor, they may require further treatment.

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