When a woman experiences chronic pelvic pain

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When a woman experiences chronic pelvic pain

Many women can experience chronic pelvic pain which can be due to multiple causes.  To define where chronic pelvic pain is located, it is pain or pressure felt anywhere in the abdomen below the naval and between the hips that lasts six months or longer.  The pain can range from feeling like a dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain.

Seeing a doctor for the pain

Pelvic pain for women that is recurrent and chronic needs to be evaluated by a doctor.  Women should also be aware of any other unusual or out of the ordinary symptoms accompanying the pain such as vaginal bleeding, lower back pain, and vaginal discharge.  Symptoms such as this can be important clues in figuring out what is the reason for the pelvic pain.

It will help the doctor make a quicker and more accurate diagnosis if a woman can be as detailed as possible in describing the location of the pelvic pain, how it feels, when the pain occurs (intermittingly or all the time), and if laying down or taking over-the-counter medications relive the pain. 

Possible reasons for pelvic pain

There can a several reasons for chronic pelvic pain in women.  One of the more common causes tends to be associated with different types of gynecological cancers.  However, most gynecologic cancers often do not begin to cause pain until they are more advanced.  The one female cancer that is an exception to that rule is ovarian cancer.   Pelvic pain may be an early sign of this type of cancer which is one reason why any pelvic pain that is persistent, should be checked out.

Besides gynecological cancers, other causes of chronic pelvic pain in women can include the following:

·      Chronic constipation

·      Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS

·      Urinary tract infections

·      Kidney stones

·      Endometriosis

·      Fibroid tumors

·      Ovarian cysts

·      Ectopic pregnancy

·      Pelvic inflammatory disease

Diagnosing pelvic pain

The good news for most women is that pelvic pain is generally caused by a benign condition that is not cancer-related.  But, again, pelvic pain that has lasted longer than a couple of weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.  Even if the pelvic pain is not cancer related, it could still be something serious. 

Women who see a doctor for pelvic pain should expect to have a pelvic exam conducted that may include a Pap smearPelvic exams allow a doctor to look for any abnormalities within the vagina, cervix, ovaries, or uterus.  Cultures from the vagina may also be taken to screen for any infections such as sexually transmitted diseases that can result in pelvic pain.

For women of child-bearing age, a pregnancy test may also be done to rule out an ectopic pregnancy.

If at any time a woman experiences sudden, severe pelvic pain, particularly if it is on one side of the body, they need to seek medical attention immediately.  It could be an ectopic pregnancy or appendicitis, both of which can be life-threatening.