Common Causes for Abdominal Pain in Women

Published on 07/16/20

Abdominal pain in women is a fairly common condition. A condition that affects one of six women in their lifetime. Abdominal pain is discomfort or pain between the lower chest to the groin. Pain can also stem all the way through the pelvis, and genitals. But what is it? What causes abdominal pain in women? And what serious symptoms should you look for?

 

Ways to Describe Abdominal Pain

Odds are, causes can be common, so diagnosing abdominal pain in women can be broad. A woman can help their doctor find the source of their abdominal pain by narrowing down the location, type, and level of pain. 

Trying to understand if the abdominal pain in women represents a serious problem and discerning the difference between serious and non-serious problems can be difficult for your healthcare provider. 

  • Does the pain come and go?
  • Does it get better or worse?
  • Where is the source of the pain?

 

Location of the Pain

Most doctors separate the abdomen several different ways. Upper Abdomen. Right upper and lower abdomen. Left upper and lower. 

Pelvis: separated by just the right and left divides. 

Kidneys: located mostly in the lower abdomen, left and right sides. Bladder: located in the central pelvis area in front of the lower intestines.  Liver: upper right abdomen. 

Being able to identify where the source of the pain radiates from, will help your healthcare provider determine which part of the body is being affected and the initial cause of the pain. 

Types of Pain

Abdominal pain in women can be consistent or may come and go. This can also make the diagnosis complicated. Types of pain can help describe and eliminate possibilities. Types of pain may be anything from:

  • Tearing
  • Cramps
  • Pressure
  • Bloating
  • Dull
  • Sharp
  • Twisting

Furthermore, types of pain may vary depending on certain situations:

  • Movement
  • Eating
  • Bowel Movements
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Constant
  • Intermittent
  • Variable

 

On A Scale From 1 to 10

The doctor often enquiries about pain intensity. Characteristics of pain can be weighed by on a scale from one to ten. Ten being the most painful. Along with the characteristics of pain. Is the pain intermittent, variable by eating, movements, and other situations. Even certain medications and stress.                                                                       

Possible Causes of Abdominal Pain

Finding out the source of abdominal pain in women can be tricky. There are many avenues and things to blame. Some of the common causes of gynecological and non-gynecological abdominal pain in women are:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS occurs in the lower abdomen, but at times affects the entire belly. IBS is a colon or lower bowl disorder. It is one of the most common reasons for abdominal pain in women. 

Symptoms can include anything from bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and sensitivity with constipation.

Diverticulitis occurs on the lower left side of the abdomen. Where pouches of the colon, called the diverticula, become inflamed.
Symptoms that come with diverticulitis are nausea, fever, and vomiting. 

  • Groin Hernias

When an organ pushes through the area that is holding it. A hernia in the groin area can cause lower abdominal pain and discomfort.

  • Tumors

Tumors that occur in certain areas of the abdomen like the large intestine may cause pain. Other symptoms like changes in bowel movements can also occur especially if the tumor is big enough to block the function of certain organs.

  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A UTI usually occurs in the urethra, kidneys, and bladder. Which can cause the pain to happen in the pelvis or abdomen bladder. 

The symptoms that usually follow are: pain when you urinate, the need to urinate often, changes in color and smell of your urine, and pelvic pressure.

Appendicitis is the inflammation of your appendix, which is located on the lower right side of your abdomen. Which causes the pain to start in the belly button area and move down to the lower right side.

Symptoms that occur are vomiting, fever, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation.

  • Constipation

Constipation is when a bowel movement becomes hard to pass or less frequent than usual. The pain develops on the lower left side of the abdomen and at times, mid-abdomen. The symptoms can simply be bloating and cramps.

  • Gynecological Issues

There are whole organ reproductive systems within the pelvis. Many instances can occur where this can cause abdominal pain in women. Ruptured ovarian cysts, pregnancy, and twisted ovary; as just a couple.

  • Endometriosis
        • Endometriosis is a condition where cells found in the womb lining are found outside the uterus. This is a common condition among women around the world that can cause debilitating period pain. As well as pain between periods, pain during sex, and bleeding between cycles. When pelvic pain relates to your cycle, endometriosis could be a problem.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
        • If your chronic pain is accompanied by discharge or fever, it could be an infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. PID is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs which affects the womb. If your pain isn’t related to your cycle you could have an infection.
  • Adenomyosis
        • Adenomyosis is where the endometrial tissue migrates inside the muscle of the womb. If this goes undiagnosed, it can cause prolonged menstrual cramps, pain during sex, and heaving bleeding.
  • Pregnancy
        • During pregnancy pelvic pain can indicate an ectopic pregnancy, premature labour, or a miscarriage.
  • Obstruction
        • An obstruction such as an ovarian torsion can block blood flow
  • Hemorrhagic or Vascular Issues

A common reason for pain and cramps can be caused by vascular issues. This can be caused by an ovarian cyst that has ruptured and caused hemorrhaging. 

  • Emotional Factors

Emotions can trigger pelvic pain in women. This can be extremely hard to explain, diagnose, and treat. Stress, anxiety, and depression cause higher risk in pelvic pain. Post-traumatic stress disorder is known to also cause a higher risk in pelvic pain. 

It is oftentimes that doctors cannot find the source of the pain and women with this abdominal pain have to prepare themselves that nothing may be found. 

It is important to note that women in certain cases as sexual abuse can lead to developing pelvic pain. These women usually get treated with pain strategy and psychological support. 

Additional common gynecologic causes of abdominal pain can also be linked to:

  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Dyspareunia
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse
  • Ruptured Ovarian Cysts
  • Uterine or Ovarian Cancer

 

When Should You Seek Emergency Care?

If your pain continues and is severe, you should seek medical help immediately. If your abdominal pain is tender to the touch or if you feel the pain extending to your back or any of the accompanying symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Unable to Eat
  • Black Stool
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vomiting
  • Can’t keep down liquids
  • Unable to pass stool for more than 3 days
  • Unexpected vaginal bleeding or missed period
  • Swelling of the Abdomen

Symptoms may be more severe and need medical attention immediately, specifically women with certain medical conditions. You should contact your emergency doctor right away if you’re a woman who is or might be pregnant. 

Types of Abdominal Pain in Women During Pregnancy

It is expected to have some types of abdominal pain during pregnancy. Your uterus may expand and cause cramping. Ligaments that support the uterus stretch and also can cause sharp pains on one or both sides of your abdomen. 

Even though some pains are normal, sharp pain may also signal a serious problem. Never hesitate to call Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine if you’re concerned about pain while you’re pregnant. Be sure to call right away when your symptoms include:

  • Change in Vaginal Discharge
  • Chills
  • Bleeding
  • Pain that makes it hard to do daily activities 
  • Sharp pain after resting
  • Fever

General Care for the Less Serious Abdominal Pain in Women

If the pain or discomfort is temporary, it is possibly treatable and not an emergency condition. The individual normally would not need to be hospitalized if the pain is considered less serious by doctors. There are many causes that a doctor may define as less serious abdominal pain in women. Sources of pain such as cramps associated with menstruation, constipation, diarrhea, stress, etc. Individuals are urged to examine and speak to their healthcare provider for any additional concerns.

For general care, avoid strenuous activities or exercise. When you’re in discomfort, find positions that ease that pain. As well as something warm, like a heating pad, placed on your abdomen to take the edge off. 

Pain may still continue even with general treatment, a healthy lifestyle and good diet. Sometimes, the general care and health will make the diagnosis become more clear or additional treatment, evaluations, tests, and medicines may need to be implemented for further healing.

Speak to your healthcare professional for initial evaluation of your abdominal pain. Definitely if your pain has continued and become chronic and affects your everyday activities. If these changes become more significant or worse seek out immediate help.

 

Skip the Waiting Room.

Call the Doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine in NYC

The doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine are experts at determining the precise cause of your pain and initiating a customized treatment plan to alleviate the pain and correct the underlying cause. When you have sudden, severe pain, don’t wait to get medical help. Call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or go to your local emergency department.

Talk to our team by phone or book an appointment online to get started. Call one of our six convenient NYC locations or schedule a video consultation online today about IUD for birth control. They’ve helped thousands of women. Come visit your NYC OBGYN.