As women, we know the woes of pelvic pain and discomfort. Pelvic pain in women may be due to gynecological causes, gastrointestinal problems, and other body problems. Sometimes, your pelvic discomfort may be due to your menstrual periods. Other times, it’s a symptom caused by different health problems – maybe even more than one.
Although some gynecologic issues may contribute to pelvic discomfort in women, there is unfortunately, a long list of causes for pelvic pain that goes far beyond the gynecological scope. This is an overview of some of the possible causes of pelvic pain.
Top 10 Causes of Pelvic Pain and Discomfort in Women
1. Endometriosis– Pelvic pain and discomfort is a common symptom of endometriosis – a female health disorder that occurs when the tissue from your uterine lining starts to grow outside of your uterus. When women with endometriosis have a menstrual period, their body is not able to expel this extra tissue (due to the fact that is growing outside of the uterus). Because this uterine tissue remains in their abdomen, this can lead to cysts and fibrous scar tissue that cause pelvic pain and discomfort.
Other symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, lower abdominal pain before and during regular menstruation, cramping for one or two weeks before their period begins and cramping during menstruation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, and pain with bowel movements.
2. Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease– PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and other reproductive organs. It can be caused by long, untreated STD’s and STI’s that produce cause infection, such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Not only can chronic pelvic inflammatory disease cause obvious problems as far as pelvic pain and discomfort goes, but it is detrimental to your overall health. PID is another reason to make sure you are constantly using as much precaution as possible when it comes to sexual intercourse. You should also get checked for STDs every 6 months if you are sexually active and not in a true monogamous relationship.
Most women with chronic pelvic inflammatory disease suffer from lower abdominal pain (like pelvic pain and discomfort). Sometimes, they may also have foul smelling vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, irregular menstrual cycles, and pain in their right upper abdomen (although this is rare).
3.Ectopic Pregnancy — An ectopic pregnancy is one that grows outside of the womb. A majority of ectopic pregnancies take place within a woman’s fallopian tube, but in rare cases, it can take place within your cervix. Unfortunately, the fetus cannot survive in this type of pregnancy.
Up to half of all women with ectopic pregnancies have had pelvic inflammatory disease (#2 cause of pelvic pain in women), or swelling in the fallopian tubes in the past. Endometriosis can put a woman at higher risk for ectopic pregnancy. One of the main symptoms of ectopic pregnancy is pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic pain.
4.Uterine Fibroids —Fibroids are noncancerous growths that can spring up within your uterus. Over time, they can cause you to experience pressure in your lower abdomen. Pain isn’t commonly associated with fibroids unless they begin to die. An estimated one in five women in their reproductive years may suffer from fibroids. They are rare in women under 20 years old, and they’re more common in African American women, compared to Caucasians.
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include pelvic cramping or pain with your menstrual period, pain when you have sex, frequent urination, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding in between periods, and pressure in your lower abdomen.
5.Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) — When you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may experience abdominal pain and cramping, frequent diarrhea, constipation, and other symptoms that can lead to pelvic pain. An estimated 1 in 6 Americans suffer from IBS, making it one of the most common intestinal problems that you can experience.
6.Interstitial Cystitis — This refers to the chronic inflammation of your bladder, which has a direct effect on the discomfort you may feel in your pelvis. This condition is also referred to as painful bladder syndrome. Women with this condition may have a frequent need to urinate; mild discomfort, pressure or tenderness in their pelvic area; intense pain in the bladder. Like with anything else, a woman’s symptoms can range from mild to severe in intensity. Women with interstitial cystitis may also have pain during sex.
7.Ovarian Remnant Syndrome — A rarer cause of pelvic pain, but it is a cause nonetheless. Ovarian remnant syndrome occurs in women who have any ovarian tissue left over after a hysterectomy. This incomplete ovarian removal can cause women to experience constant, chronic pelvic pain and discomfort; painful sexual intercourse; pain when a woman urinates or has a bowel movement. Fortunately, ovarian remnant syndrome is rare.
8.Pelvic Joint Instability — When a woman goes through childbirth, the ligaments around the pelvic joints must stretch to make room for the baby. After giving birth, these ligaments can become weak. The woman can experience discomfort and pain in her pelvis, as a result. Pelvic joint instability is often related to pelvic girdle pain.
9.Cervical or Uterine Cancers — Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), and the cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the cervix grow uncontrollably. Pelvic pain can be a symptom of advanced cervical cancer.
Uterine cancer most commonly occurs after menopause, and is associated with the hysterectomy. A common symptom of uterine cancer is pelvic pain, along with pain during sex, trouble urinating, and unusual vaginal bleeding.
10.Menstrual Cramps — Good old fashion menstrual cramps can cause women to experience pelvic pain and discomfort during their time of the month. Menstrual cramps can go from dull aches to throbbing pain that radiates you’re your lower abdomen. Most women experience menstrual cramps in the days leading up to and during their periods.
Symptoms to Call the Doctor
Pelvic pain and discomfort – especially when the pain is severe – is a sign that you need to call the doctor. Other symptoms that warrant a doctor’s appointment include:
- Painful periods
- Unusual spotting or discharge
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Urination that becomes painful or difficult
- Bloody bowel movements
- Pain during sex
- Pain in the hip or groin area
The important thing to remember is that if you are experiencing any symptoms that are not normal, see a physician. When you leave uncomfortable syndromes left untreated, they can cause greater problems down the road – like infertility and cysts. Be aware and be proactive! Call your doctor about any pelvic pain or discomfort you might be having.
Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger.
Danae Matthews writes for the online women’s health resource Women’s Health Base.
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