Pelvic pain is a common complaint among women, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. Understanding the underlying causes of pelvic pain, as well as its associated symptoms, is key to seeking proper treatment and improving quality of life.

What is “Pelvic Pain” Anyway?

Pelvic pain can include pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis, pain during intercourse, urination or bowel movements, heavy bleeding or spotting, nausea and vomiting, changes in bowel or bladder function, pain during ovulation or menstrual periods.

The causes of pelvic pain can vary.

When Should You Worry about Pelvic Pain?

Chronic pelvic pain is a complex and often debilitating condition that affects millions of women worldwide.

It is defined as pelvic pain that lasts for more than six months and can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life. While the cause of chronic pelvic pain is not always clear, there are several factors that are known to contribute to its development.

  • This can include gynecological conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
  • Other factors can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which is a disorder that affects the large intestine and can cause a range of symptoms including pain in the pelvic region, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.

While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, stress and certain foods have been known to trigger symptoms.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic condition that causes pain or pressure in the bladder and pelvic region. The exact cause of IC is not known but is thought to be related to inflammation in the bladder and/or pelvic floor muscles. Symptoms of IC can include frequent urination, urinary urgency, and pain during intercourse.

Chronic pelvic pain can also be caused by irritation of the nerves of the pelvis and dysfunction of the pelvic floor musculature. Pelvic nerve entrapment is a condition in which nerves in the pelvic area become compressed or pinched, causing pain. This can occur due to injury, surgery, or conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids. Pelvic nerve entrapment can cause pain in the lower back, hips, and legs, as well as in the pelvic region.

Left side and right-side sharp pain in the pelvic area is often caused by gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or ectopic pregnancy.

  • Endometriosis occurs when the tissue like tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, causing pain and discomfort. This tissue can form growths, called implants, on other organs in the pelvic region, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder. When these implants are disturbed, such as during menstruation, they can cause pain, cramping, and heavy bleeding.
  • Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the ovaries and can cause sharp pain. They are common and usually harmless, but some can cause pain and discomfort.
  • An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus, causing sharp pain and discomfort.

Women should be concerned about pelvic pain and seek medical attention if it is severe, persistent, accompanied by other symptoms, or experience changes in bowel or bladder function. Early diagnosis and treatment can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.

At Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine, we always remind patients that pain is normalized, but not normal. A multi-modal approach to treating persistent pelvic pain is best. Always talk to your doctor about your pain and remember that you know your body best! You do not have to live with pain.