What Causes Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain may refer to pain in the abdominal region or below the umbilicus and can be caused by a variety of disorders, involving the bowel, the bladder, or the appendix. Pelvic pain can also signal a medical emergency.

The following are some (not all) causes of pelvic pain:

  • Ovarian cysts and fibroids
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Kidney or bladder stones or infection
  • Muscle strain or hernia
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Vaginal infections
  • Appendicitis
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Vaginitis

A Closer Look: Causes of Pelvic Pain

Ovarian cysts – Women with ovarian cysts may experience a sharp pain mid cycle, if the cyst leaks fluid or bleeds a little. If the cyst is particularly large, continuous or sharp pain may occur. Fortunately, many smaller ovarian cysts dissolve without medical intervention within two to three menstrual cycles. However in cases where cysts are larger than 5 cm, they may require surgery for removal.
Endometriosis is associated with large ovarian cysts that have blood in them. In older postmenopausal women, ovarian cysts larger than 2.5 cm which are not clear can be a sign of ovarian cancer and should be investigated.

Ectopic pregnancy is another cause of pelvic pain. This occurs when a pregnancy starts outside of the uterus, typically in one of the fallopian tubes. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, pain will usually start on one side of the abdomen after a missed period, and vaginal bleeding may occur. Should you suspect you have this type of pelvic pain, pay a visit to a medical professional immediately as ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening. If not treated quickly, fallopian tubes can burst and cause abdominal bleeding—surgery may be required to remove the affected fallopian tube.

Menstrual cramps can cause chronic pelvic pain, as well as fibroid tumors—non cancerous, benign growths in the middle of the uterus that have no symptoms, although they can cause pelvic pain, pressure, and menstrual abnormalities. Menstrual cramps are usually felt in the lower back or belly and may last one to three days – heating pads and over the counter pain relief may help these pelvic pain symptoms.

Appendicitis, Inflammation of the appendix symptoms include sharp pain in the lower right of the abdomen, fever, and vomiting. If you have any of those symptoms, pay an immediate visit to the emergency room. An infected appendix requires immediate surgical removal or it will eventually burst, causing the infection to spread within the abdomen.

IBS is a digestive disorder that causes reoccurring pain in the stomach, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and or constipation. There are multiple strategies to control the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, including a change in diet, medications to treat diarrhea or constipation, and management of stress.

One of the more serious complications of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. This infection may potentially cause permanent damage to the uterus, fallopian tubes and is the leading cause of infertility. Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease include fever, belly pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during urination and intercourse. PID may be treated with antibiotics.

No matter what type of pelvic pain you may be having, if it persists, you should visit your medical professional for a proper check up, diagnosis and treatment.

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