Pelvic pain is internal pain in the area bellow the belly button that may or may not be associated with menstrual periods. Chronic pelvic pain lasts 6 months or longer. A variety of gynecologic, gastrointestinal, urologic, musculoskeletal and body-wide disorders can cause chronic pelvic pain.
Pelvic pain may be a symptom of infection or may arise from pain in the pelvic bone or in non-reproductive internal organs, such as the bladder or colon. In women, however, pelvic pain can very well be an indication that there may be a problem with one of the reproductive organs in the pelvic area (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, or vagina).
Gynecologic causes are thought to be the cause of chronic pelvic pain in about 20 percent of women. Some gynecologic causes of pelvic pain include:
- Endometriosis — The tissue lining the inside of the uterus is called the endometrium. This is a condition in which endometrial tissue is also present outside of the uterus. Some women with endometriosis have no symptoms, while others experience marked discomfort, pain and may have problems with fertility.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease —An acute infection usually caused by a sexually transmitted organism. Occasionally, it is caused by a ruptured appendix, tuberculosis, or diverticulitis. It can involve the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes (which link the ovaries and uterus). Chronic changes following pelvic inflammatory disease occur in about one-third of women and causes chronic pelvic pain. The reason for this is not clearly known, but is likely because of permanent damage to the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, and is not because of a chronic infection.
- Ectopic pregnancy - a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb (uterus). It is life-threatening to the mother.
- Miscarriage - the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy.
- Ovulation - when a mature egg is released from the ovary, pushed down the fallopian tube, and is available to be fertilized.
- Menstrual Cramps - also known as dysmenorrhea or period pains, are painful sensations felt in the lower abdomen that can occur both before and during a woman's menstrual period. The pain ranges from dull and annoying to severe and extreme.
- Ovarian Cysts - a sac filled with fluid that forms on or inside of an ovary.
- Fibroids - noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the womb (uterus)
- Uterine Cancer - abnormal (malignant) growth of any cells that comprise uterine tissue.
- Cervical Cancer - cancer that starts in the cervix.
Other diseases associated with pelvic pain and discomfort may include:
- Bladder Disorders
- Kidney infection, or kidney stones
- Intestinal disorders
- Nerve conditions
- Pelvis disorder
- Menstrual cramps
- Menstrual pain
- Vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge
- Painful or difficult urination
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating or gas
- Blood seen with bowel movement
- Pain during intercourse
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the hip or groin area
There are different ways to diagnose the problem. The doctor will ask questions about the symptoms, and perform a physical exam. Then suggesting tests as needed. There are treatments available depending on severity; the most common is the use of antibiotics. However in some cases surgery may be needed.