While you might think that any pelvic pain stems from a gynecologic condition, it can be more complex and might be provoked by other health issues. Pelvic pain can be due to problems in the urinary tract, reproductive organs, pelvic floor muscles, bones and joints of the pelvis, digestive tract, lower back, or the nervous system.
According to a study of women seeking care for conditions such as pain, infertility, menstrual problems, or tubal sterilization, 30 percent of women had chronic pain, including those who didn’t suffer from any pelvic disorders. Many reproductive-age women are currently having but not reporting some form of pelvic pain.
Pelvic pain can be complicated and start off sharp and occasional and then get constant and achy. Or it can start in another location, originating on the right side and moving to both sides. All of this information is crucial for your healthcare provider to know. Tell your doctor about the timing, location, severity, sharpness, and activities, like if you were having sex or going to the bathroom when it occurred. Let’s look at some surprising factors of pain in the pelvis:
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus. Pelvic pain is a hallmark of endometriosis, but the pain can also spread to other areas of the body at the time of menstruation. Women with endometriosis often describe the pain as severe period cramps that happen around the time of their periods. Sometimes endometriosis pain can be unbearable, and it’s hard to get rid of it on your own. If that’s your case, it’s time to visit a pain management clinic and get the proper treatment.
2. Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that occur in the uterus. They’re often symptomless, but sometimes they’re accompanied by pelvic pain and pressure, as well as heavy and long-lasting periods, problems urinating, and constipation. An ultrasound is often enough to make a diagnosis. If they’re causing significant discomfort, your healthcare provider might prescribe medications to shrink those growths.
If you’ve been suffering from pelvic pain for at least six months, one possible culprit is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can cause a crampy pain in the bowels. According to a recent study, 40 percent of women reporting pelvic pain also had irritable bowel syndrome. If you experience abdominal pain along with changes in bowel movements like diarrhea, constipation, or bloating, visit your physician.
4. Period cramps
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably experienced cramping around the time of your menstruation since your uterus contracts to shed the uterine lining, and this can be a root cause of temporary pelvic pain. But if cramps are interfering with daily activities, your gynecologist needs to rule out a medical cause.
5. Bladder issue
One possible culprit is a condition called interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome). It causes a burning or sharp pain in the bladder or urethra. The pain worsens during urination and can come and go for weeks or months. A spasm in pelvic floor muscles might also lead to discomfort. This condition can flare during your menstruation, during sex, or as a result of stress.
6. An ovarian cyst
Women with ovarian cysts experience a more sudden onset of severe pain. Ovarian cysts don’t always contribute to problems. What’s more, they can go away on their own. A cyst that’s especially large can provoke bloating, abdominal fullness, as well as produce a dull or sharp ache on one side in your lower abdomen.
7. Nerve problem
If your pain is severe and zing-like, it might be caused by a nerve condition called pudendal nerve entrapment. The pudendal nerve provides signals to the pelvic floor muscles, perineum, skin of the penis or vulva, and the rectum, and dysfunction can provoke pain to whip through this region. Physical therapy with an expert in pelvic floor conditions might be the first-line suggested treatment if your healthcare provider suspects you may have a nerve problem.