Hollie Welham originally thought she was pregnant – but all tests came back negative
A woman appeared to be nine months pregnant with an ovarian cyst that had grown to the size of a soccer ball in her abdomen.
Hollie Welham, 21, initially thought she was pregnant after becoming nauseous in January 2022 and noticing her stomach was “growing”.
But when all the tests came back negative, Hollie was referred for an ultrasound as her symptoms continued to worsen – including severe cramping, bleeding and back pain.
“My stomach got bigger every day”
Doctors determined she wasn’t carrying a baby, but a large cyst was growing on her right ovary and while she awaited surgery to have it removed, Hollie watched her stomach “grow and grow” every day.
By the time she had keyhole surgery in May 2022, the cyst had grown to 27cm – larger than a football – and Hollie’s stomach was bloated and bloated from fluid buildup.
A surgeon at Musgrove Hospital, Taunton, successfully removed the cyst, along with her right ovary and fallopian tube, and Hollie has shrunk back to her normal size eight.
Hollie, a health worker from Bridgwater, Somerset, said: “At first I thought I was pregnant.
“All the symptoms pointed to it because every day my belly was getting bigger – like a bulge.
“I can’t believe how big my belly has gotten – I looked like I was nine months old.
“I couldn’t fit into any jeans and even leggings felt too tight and hurt on my stomach.
“I felt so uncomfortable but I’m so glad they discovered the cyst and managed to remove it.”
“It was pretty scary”
In January 2022, Hollie began experiencing symptoms including fatigue, nausea, and stomach cramps.
She also struggled to fit into some of her dresses and felt extremely bloated.
Hollie said: “I thought it came from an overstatement at Christmas.
“But as the bloating and pain got worse I thought I might be pregnant.
“I took a couple of pregnancy tests, but they were all negative.
“It was pretty scary and I had no idea what it could be or if I would just be like this now.”
In February 2022, Hollie also experienced irregular bleeding throughout the month.
She booked an appointment with the GP to see what was causing the problems.
Hollie claims the doctor felt a “lump” in her stomach and referred her for an ultrasound.
She said: “They offered a five-week scan but I couldn’t wait that long.
“My stomach was getting bigger every day and I was in so much pain.”
A week later, in March 2022, Hollie managed to undergo a scan that revealed a large cyst was growing on her right ovary.
“I looked like I was about to give birth”
At this point, Hollie said her stomach felt “tight” and she remained bloated from a buildup of fluid.
“On the first scan, it was about 18 cm tall,” she said.
“I’ve read that anything over 10cm for a cyst on your ovary is large and fairly rare.
“But they said it wasn’t benign and it wasn’t cancerous or anything to worry about.
“I can’t believe how big I’ve grown – I looked like I was going to give birth, I had such a big ‘bump’.
“I was in so much pain from carrying a lot of extra weight.”
Hollie was booked for surgery at Musgrove Hospital in Taunton in May 2022, where doctors performed keyhole surgery to remove the cyst.
When the cyst was removed, it was over 27 cm – about the size of a football.
Doctors were able to remove the entire cyst, as well as Hollie’s right ovary and fallopian tube.
She said: “They also had to remove my ovary because the cysts had grown in it.
“It shouldn’t affect my fertility – you can still have children with one ovary, it just might take longer.
“I had great support from my family and my boyfriend Isaac, 20.
“My tummy is still a bit sore and bloated, but it has drastically reduced in size.
“I want to share my story to help others be aware of the signs and symptoms.
“It was pretty scary at the time, but I’m recovering well now.”