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Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain occurs mostly in the lower abdomen area just above the pubic bone. The pain might be steady or it might come and go. If the pain is severe, it might get in the way of your daily activities.

If you're a woman, you might feel a dull pain during your period. It could also happen during sex. Pelvic pain can be a sign that there is a problem with one of the organs in your pelvic area, such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix or vagina. It could also be a symptom of infection, or a problem with the urinary tract, lower intestines, rectum, muscle or bone. If you're a man, the cause is often a problem with the prostate.

You might have to undergo a lot of medical tests to find the cause of the pain. The treatment will depend on the cause, how bad the pain is and how often it occurs.

What is pelvic pain?

Pelvic pain is a general term that health care providers use to describe pain that occurs mostly or only in the lower abdomen area.  It may be steady pain or pain that comes and goes.  In some cases the pain may be severe and might get in the way of daily activities. In other cases, the pain might be dull and occur only during the menstrual cycle.  Pelvic pain also describes pain that occurs during sexual intercourse.

What conditions cause pelvic pain?

In general, pelvic pain signals that there might be a problem with one of the organs in your pelvic area: uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, urinary tract, lower intestines, or rectum.  Or, the pain might be a symptom of infection.  Sometimes pelvic pain can be caused by muscular and skeletal problems. There are some common health conditions that are often associated with pelvic pain, including:

  • Vulvodynia -- describes chronic pain or discomfort of the vulva (the external female genitalia). Vulvodynia can cause burning, stinging, irritation, or rawness of the vulva.  The type of pain can be different for each woman.  Pain may move around or always be in the same place. It can be constant or come and go.
  • Endometriosis -- occurs when tissues that usually line a woman’s uterus instead grow outside the uterus.  These tissues often grow on the surfaces of organs in the pelvis or abdomen, where they are not supposed to grow.  The two most common symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility.
  • Uterine Fibroids -- are the most common, non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age.  The fibroids are made of muscle cells and other tissues that grow within and around the wall of the uterus.  Symptoms can include heavy or painful periods, pain during sex, and lower back pain, among others.

What is the treatment for pelvic pain?

It may be difficult to find the cause of your pelvic pain. Your health care provider will likely run a number of tests to find the cause of your pain.  Treatment will depend on what is causing your pelvic pain, how intense the pain is, and how often the pain occurs. Your health care provider may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics to treat the pain.  For other conditions, treatment may be more involved, such as surgery for endometriosis. 

Content Created by National Library of Medicine (NLM)

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Dr. Aguirre
Dr. Aguirre is the Director of Aguirre Specialty Care, The Center for Female Pelvic Medicine. Dr. Aguirre is also a member of the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America.
The Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America is founded and directed by Dr. David L. Matlock.

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