Pelvic pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments

Picture of Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is pain in the lowest part of your abdomen and pelvis. In women, pelvic pain may refer to symptoms arising from the reproductive or urinary systems or from musculoskeletal sources.

Depending on its source, pelvic pain may be dull or sharp; it may be constant or off and on (intermittent); and it may be mild, moderate or severe. Pelvic pain can sometimes radiate to your lower back, buttocks or thighs.

Pelvic pain can occur suddenly, sharply and briefly (acute) or over the long term (chronic). Chronic pelvic pain refers to any constant or intermittent pelvic pain that has been present for more than a few months.

Sometimes, you may notice pelvic pain only at certain times, such as when you urinate or during sexual activity.

What Causes Pelvic Pain?

Possible causes of pelvic pain in both men and women may include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Bladder disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Kidney infection or kidney stones
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Nerve conditions
  • Hernia
  • Pelvis disorder
  • Broken pelvis
  • Psychogenic pain

Possible causes of pelvic pain in women only may include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ovulation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Ovarian cysts or other ovarian disorders
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine cancer
  • Cervical cancer

How is chronic pelvic pain diagnosed?

Your health care provider will ask about your medical history. You will have a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Tests also may be done to find the cause. It also may be necessary to see other specialists to find out the cause of your pain, such as a gastroenterologist (a physician who focuses on digestive problems) or urogynecologist (a gynecologist specializing in urinary and related problems).

How is Pelvic Pain Treated?

The treatment of pelvic pain varies depending on the cause, how intense the pain is, and how often the pain occurs. Sometimes, pelvic pain is treated with medications, including antibiotics if necessary. If the pain results from a problem with one of the pelvic organs, the treatment may involve surgery or other procedures. A doctor can provide more information about various treatments for pelvic pain.

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