A woman whose pain during sex was blamed on her partner’s penis being ‘too big’ by doctors has had a 10.5lb ovarian cyst containing a gallon of fluid removed from her abdomen.
Raquel Rodriguez, 25, from Minnesota, went to see doctors five years ago about the problem and to say she was also facing sudden bouts of pain.
Scans at the time revealed she had an 8cm cyst — or fluid-filled sac — on her ovary about the size of a softball, but doctors said it did not need to be removed.
Last year, however, the cyst began to grow rapidly and eventually became so large that the pre-school teacher appeared to be ‘pregnant’. Friends even started asking her why she hadn’t told them she was ‘expecting’.
Rodriguez had a two-hour operation at Memorial Hospital to remove the cyst four weeks ago, and has recovered so well that a week later she did the grocery shopping.
Revealing the tale on TikTok, Rodriguez said the tumor grew to 28cm across — the top size for ovarian cysts.
She said during the operation her right ovary and fallopian tube — where the cyst was — had to be removed, but that her left ones are still in tact.
It was not clear what sparked the cyst, but Rodriguez said it may have been due to a urinary tract infection and sepsis that she suffered in 2017.
Raquel Rodriguez, 25 and from Minnesota, went to see doctors five years ago about the problem and to say she was also facing sudden bouts of pain. She is pictured (left) before surgery and (right) after surgery
The ovarian cyst eventually grew to be 28cm across and hold as much as a gallon of fluid, equivalent to seven Gatorade bottles
Rodriguez is pictured above after the surgery to remove the ovarian cyst. Four weeks later she says she is doing well
Rodriguez had the tumor removed during a two-hour procedure in Minnesota, and was discharged a week later. The next day she went grocery shopping
Ovarian cysts are when a fluid-filled sac forms on the side of the ovaries often during ovulation, when an egg is released.
They can also be triggered by infections in the pelvic area, hormonal problems and endometriosis — when tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside it.
Doctors say ovarian cysts overall are ‘very common’, and normally disappear without causing any symptoms.
What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary. They’re very common and don’t usually cause any symptoms.
Most ovarian cysts occur naturally and disappear in a few months without needing any treatment.
An ovarian cyst usually only causes symptoms if it splits, is very large, or blocks the blood supply to the ovaries.
It might cause:
- pelvic pain – this can range from a dull, heavy sensation to a sudden, severe and sharp pain
- pain during sex
- difficulty emptying bowels a frequent need to urinate
- heavy periods, irregular periods or lighter periods than normal
- bloating and a swollen tummy
- feeling very full after only eating a little
- difficulty getting pregnant – although fertility is unaffected in most women with ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts can sometimes also be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis.
The vast majority of ovarian cysts are non-cancerous (benign), although a small number are cancerous (malignant). Cancerous cysts are more common in women who have been through the menopause.
Surgical treatment to remove the cysts may be needed if they’re large, causing symptoms, or potentially cancerous.
But some types — such as the mucinous cyst that Rodriguez had — do not disappear and may grow larger if they are not removed.
Symptoms of the condition include bloating, swelling and pain in the lower abdomen. In cases where they rupture they can also cause severe pain.
Most women diagnosed with the cysts are offered pain medication and prescribe hormonal pills to help regulate ovulation.
But those with more serious forms of the condition will be offered surgery to remove them.
Describing when she was turned down for surgery by doctors, Rodriguez said she explained to a male medic she was in ‘excruciating pain’.
She added: ‘He happened to be male and he told me that the pain I was having was probably due to my partner being “too big” and I should have “shallower sex”.
Other medics told her that the pain was likely down to cramps or bloating, and was nothing to worry about.
Rodriguez said even when the cyst was spotted doctors were not overly concerned, and sent her home.
Dr Taraneh Shirazian, the director of the Fibroid Care center at NYU Langone Health in New York City, told TODAY they should have operated when they found the cyst.
‘Mucinous cysts don’t resolve themselves like common cysts which typically come and go with a woman’s menstrual cycle,’ she said.
‘They either just hang out on the ovary and stay the same size or they can grow — and they grow quite rapidly.’
Shirazian said doctors should become worried about them when they are larger than 5cm, but when Rodriguez’s was diagnosed it was already 8cm.
Rodriguez said she normally has an ‘athletic’ build and is quite ‘petite’.
But around her 24th birthday — after they had been turned away by doctors — family members noticed she was beginning to appear more bloated.
Describing when the cyst became quite large, she told TODAY: ‘I looked and felt pregnant.
‘I had shortness of breath and was bloated and peeing all the time. People were asking me, “when are you due?” I had friends saying, “I didn’t know you were pregnant! Why didn’t you tell me?”.’
‘I laugh now, but it’s not really funny,’ she said. ‘My hair was falling out, I was in a ton of pain and I was losing weight without trying.’
Days before her surgery friends threw a ‘baby shower’ to make light of the situation, and put up a banner saying ‘it’s a cyst!’.
After the operation Rodriguez said her stomach felt ‘small’ and as though a great weight had been removed.
About a week later she was again able to go to the supermarket, and run other errands.
In an update a week after surgery, she said: ‘I have been doing really well, I am out grocery shopping right now.
‘So far, so good. They did say there would be a lot of bloating and swelling because I have a lot of fluid in there still but my body should absorb that and I should be good.’