For some women, it might happen during their period; for others, it’s
a constant that doesn’t go away. Whatever the circumstances, pelvic
pain is a common complaint—an estimated 15 percent of U.S. women
of childbearing age suffer from chronic pain that lasts at least six months.
And it may be more common than we know: A new study suggests that there
are many women who have pelvic pain that is going untreated.
“Both female patients and their doctors need to be more aware about
the need to discuss possible pelvic pain,” says
Moses Mukai, DO, a board-certified urogynecologist at
St. Mary High Desert Medical Group. “Some women may be hesitant to talk about it, or figure it will
go away eventually, but they need to share the problem with their physicians.
For their part, doctors should make a point to ask patients about possible
pelvic pain to open up the dialogue.”
The study, from the National Institutes of Health and the University of
Utah School of Medicine, involved discussions about pelvic pain with more
than 400 women. Forty percent of the women had endometriosis and another
31 percent had another condition that caused the pelvic pain—the
remaining 29 percent in the study said they felt pain but didn’t
have a diagnosis about the cause.
“Pelvic pain can often be a symptom of something else,” Dr.
Mukai says. “Women suffering from pain should see their doctors,
especially if it affects how you go about your day or if the pain gets
Pelvic pain is generally felt in the lower abdominal area. The pain can
manifest in different ways: sharp and sudden or dull and constant. Pain
can occur on its own, or during menstruation, sex, going to the bathroom
or even just sitting. There are also several culprits behind pelvic pain,
including endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, infections that cause
scarring, ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids.
“If you schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about pelvic pain,
make sure you can describe when the pain episodes occur, the specific
location of the pain and what it feels like,” Dr. Mukai says. “Your
doctor can conduct a pelvic exam, take cultures for a lab or use ultrasound
or other imaging tests. Depending on the cause of the pain, your physician
can prescribe medication, surgery, physical therapy or relaxation methods
such as meditation. Treating pelvic pain, and its cause, is an important
part of a woman’s health care.”
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.