Why You Should Care About Pelvic Pain

Published on 03/19/21

Pain in your lower stomach or abdomen can be anywhere in between uncomfortable gas from dinner to debilitating cramps. 

The area of the pelvis is the bony bed that helps to connect our torso to our legs. The pelvic area helps support the intestines, reproductive organs, and bladder. Because of this wide variety of organs that live in the pelvic regions, pelvic pain symptoms can mean a range of situations to determine. 

Pelvic pain can be dull, sharp, periodic, constant, localized, or affecting other areas of the body. When it comes to understanding your pain, the possible reasons you are having pain, and the best way to describe those symptoms, will help determine if you need to see your doctor to address it. 

Understanding Your Pelvic Pain

First thing, assess your pain. This can be a multi-step of things to consider. Is it sudden, chronic, painful?

  1. Where do you feel pain? 
  2. Is it during specific times or activities? Meaning, do you feel it before, during, or after your period? When you lift heavy things? When you eat? 
  3. Is the pain consistent? Is it chronic? Is it intermittent? How much time passes in between?
  4. Is it a gradual pain? Or sudden pain?
  5. When did this pain originally start?
  6. Does it affect your daily life?
  7. Do any of these words accurately describe your pain? Use them when describing your symptoms to a doctor.
  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Gnawing
  • Heavy
  • Hot or burning
  • Sharp
  • Shooting
  • Stabbing
  • Throbbing

There are many conditions that can cause pelvic pain or chronic pelvic pain. It’s also possible to have more than one of them. This makes things hard to decipher because they can all have similar symptoms. One of the main symptoms is pain, mostly that lasts for more than six months. Normally this pain is coupled with other symptoms that can help you and your doctor narrow down the root cause. 

Here are a few causes you may be dealing with and related symptoms:

Endometriosis

In endometriosis, cells that normally line the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grow inappropriately outside on organs such as the ovaries, bladder, or rectum. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pelvic pain or cramps before or during your period
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain when you ovulate
  • Bloating in your abdomen
  • Infertility
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Rectal bleeding during your period
  • Spotting between periods

Adenomyosis

This condition is similar to endometriosis. Cells that normally line your uterus (the endometrium) invade the muscle tissue of the uterus wall (the myometrium). Many women with adenomyosis don’t have any symptoms. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Feeling of pressure on your bladder or rectum
  • Heavy periods
  • Pain during your period
  • Periods that last longer than usual

Interstitial Cystitis

Women with interstitial cystitis have an inflamed bladder. The inflammation is not caused by an infection. This condition tends to affect women in their 30s and 40s. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Pain during sex
  • You need to urinate very often
  • Discomfort when you urinate
  • Often feeling an urgent need to urinate

Urinary Tract Infection

Bacteria are usually the cause of urinary tract infections. Infections can involve any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Urinary tract infections are much more common in women than in men. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Needing to urinate often
  • Feeling pressure in your lower pelvis
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urine has strong or bad smell
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain or a burning sensation when you urinate
  • Often feeling an urgent need to urinate
  • Needing to get up at night to urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Only a trickle of urine comes out

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

This is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries that causes them to become inflamed and infected. Most often, it is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection, like gonorrhea or chlamydia. These bacteria enter the uterus through the vagina and leave the fallopian tubes to infect surrounding organs like the ovaries. Scars left by the infection may cause chronic pelvic pain; however, more commonly the pain is acute.

Symptoms you may have:

  • Nausea
  • Vaginal discharge having an unusual color, texture, or odor
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain in a specific area or more widespread
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Menstrual cramps that are worse than usual
  • Pain when you urinate
  • It hurts when you press on certain areas of your pelvis
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain when you ovulate
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion is just like the varicose veins that some women have in their legs, but it affects the veins of the pelvis. Blood backs up in the veins, making them become enlarged and engorged. Pelvic congestion causes chronic pelvic pain in some women. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Lying down relieves pelvic pain
  • Pain starts 7-10 days before your period
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain is worse when you sit or stand
  • Aches in your legs
  • Pain during sex

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Chronic pelvic pain sometimes isn’t only due to problems with reproductive organs or the urinary tract; other organs in the pelvic area, if “diseased,” can present as pelvic pain. Irritable bowel syndrome, an intestinal condition that often causes pain, may be the cause. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Pain relieved by a bowel movement

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in, and on, the wall of the uterus. Not all women who have them notice symptoms, but for some, fibroids can be painful. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Heavy periods
  • Feeling pressure or fullness in your abdomen
  • Need to urinate frequently
  • Pain or cramps during your period
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids

Levator Syndrome

Sometimes, spasms of a pelvic muscle called the “levator ani” cause pelvic pain.

Symptoms you may have:

  • Pain doesn’t seem to be related to bowel movements
  • You wake up at night in pain
  • Pain is related to sitting
  • Pain usually lasts less than 20 minutes at a time

Pelvic Support Problems

Sometimes women have pelvic pain when the muscles and ligaments that hold organs in place weaken. This causes organs like the uterus, the bladder, or the rectum to move from their normal places and herniate into the vagina. The vagina may also change shape. Pregnancy and giving birth may cause these kinds of problems. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Pelvic organs bulge into the vagina, or even stick out the vaginal opening, in severe cases
  • Feeling like something is falling out of your vagina
  • Leaking urine
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty with bowel movements

Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is pain that affects the vulva for no apparent reason. The pain of vulvodynia may be constant or it may come and go. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Pain when something presses on the vulva, like during sex or when you straddle a seat
  • Burning or stinging sensations in the vulva
  • Pain in your inner thighs

Psychological Causes

For some women, the root of pelvic pain is psychological. That’s not to say that the pain isn’t real. There just isn’t an identifiable physical cause. Some people have emotional problems that only show up as physical symptoms. Women who have suffered sexual abuse or assault often have chronic pelvic pain afterward. Trusted Source

Symptoms you may have:

  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Stress

Diagnosing Pain

There are several ways to diagnose the source of your pain. Your healthcare provider may ask you details about the type of pain and health history you have. As well as perform a physical exam. Normally to check your pelvic region and abdomen. Depending on what your doctor may find, they may order a few lab, blood, or urine tests. In addition to a colonoscopy and/or MRI to view the entire pelvic region.

Treatments for Pelvic Pain

Your treatment plan will be determined by the type of pain and medical history needs. There are, however, general treatment options for pelvic pain that may include:

  • Hormonal treatment for endometriosis
  • Physical therapy to help muscle and connective tissue pain
  • Pain relievers – over the counter pain relievers like Advil or Motrin, can be a good attempt to create some relief. They can help reduce the swelling that leads to pelvic pains.
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Diet changes – adjusting some habits like changing over to healthier food options can help shed weight. The shedding of extra pounds helps to relieve pressure on nerves which aids in helping with pelvic pain. Some supplements in certain cases have been linked to help chronic pelvic pain. If you have lower than normal levels of vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, E, and magnesium. Taking supplements can help soothe this type of pain. Talk to your doctors about vitamin, and mineral deficiencies. As well as certain herbs to help provide relief from your pelvic pain.
  • Activity or lifestyle changes – I understand first hand that thinking about exercise when you feel entirely debilitated, is difficult. However, exercise can help increase blood flow and help release endorphins. Which is the body’s natural painkillers. Push for 30 to 45 minutes of exercise. This can help relieve a lot of your pain. Relax. Meditation, yoga, and even deep breathing exercises can help to reduce the stress and tension that can make chronic pain even worse.
  • Surgery to remove fibroids or endometriosis
  • Counseling
  • Warm/Hot Compresses – heat increases blood flow, which also may help reduce your pain. Whether you sit in a hot tub, or use a heating pad or warm compress, these can all provide relief during flare-ups

If you noticed you have been having pain for more than six months, you may be diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain. Talk to your doctor about eliminating possible problems that may be linked to chronic pelvic pain. 

For instance, one in ten women suffer from endometriosis, which is now considered a common ailment. Don’t delay the diagnosis process, go to your doctor for help. Talk openly with your doctor about your pain, possible causes, and your options for treatment.

If You’re Looking For Answers About Your Pelvic Pain, Call Rosh MFM in NYC

Pelvic pain and inflammation significantly affect quality of life, interfering with personal relationships and taking a toll on your energy and health.

Some of the conditions that cause pelvic pain can lead to complications like infertility, so it’s important to consult the doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine. Call one of our six convenient NYC locations or schedule a video consultation online today. Women with pelvic pain and inflammation can count on the experienced and compassionate care of the team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine in NYC. They’ve helped thousands of women. Come visit your NYC OBGYN.