As many as one out of five women of reproductive age experience pelvic pain, ranging from mild, occasional aches to longer-term, severe discomfort.
“Women should not regard pelvic pain as normal,” says McLeod Gynecologist Monica Ploetzke, MD. “Even if it’s only mild discomfort, you should see your physician to find the cause. And there are many possibilities.”
CAUSE OF PELVIC PAIN
A woman’s pelvis or pelvic area holds many organs, from the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries to organs that sit next to the reproductive organs, such as the appendix, intestines and bladder. Pain can radiate from other parts of the body – abdomen and kidney – but seem to be coming from the pelvis. Up to 50 percent of pelvic irritation comes from muscles or nerve pain.
Common triggers for pelvic pain are endometriosis (uterine tissues that grows outside the uterus), fibroids (benign muscle growths in the uterus) or an infection. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that 30 percent of women with NO pelvic condition still experience serious pain.
To determine the cause and exact location of the problem, your Gynecologist may use ultrasound. If the problem is not yet visible, other diagnostic techniques, such as CT scan, MRI, laparoscopy or cystoscopy may be recommended.
Ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often effective in treating pelvic pain. Pelvic floor therapy for muscles may be one of the approaches discussed by your doctor to treat musculoskeletal or neurological problems causing pelvic pain.
Your physician may recommend other prescription medications, muscle relaxants or hormone therapy.
As a last resort, your GYN may discuss a hysterectomy as definitive management for persistent or severe pelvic pain.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Don’t live with pelvic pain. If it’s affecting your life, see your Gynecologist. Just because other people can’t see your pain, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Be prepared to describe any symptoms other than the pelvic pain, even if they seem unrelated or in another part of your body.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, American Family Physician, Academy of Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health