Pelvic pain is a broad term used to describe either sharp or dull pain that occurs below your belly button, including hips, buttocks, and genital area, lasting six months or longer. Pelvic pain may become chronic. The underlying cause of pelvic pain could be a symptom of another disease, and treating that disease may reduce or eliminate discomfort.
What is Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is either a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache below the belly button and between the hips. Various underlying conditions can cause pelvic pain. Pelvic inflammatory disease and STDs, specifically gonorrhea or chlamydia, may sometimes cause pelvic discomfort and pain.
Pelvic pain can arise from digestive problems such as Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and appendicitis. It may also be associated with issues involving the female reproductive system, such as painful ovulation (Mittelschmerz) or menstrual cramps. Problems arising from muscle and connective tissue in the structure of the pelvic floor (pelvic floor dysfunction) or bladder sources, such as interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), are also known causes of pelvic pain.
Pelvic pain in women
Pelvic pain in women is often directly related to their reproductive system. Therefore, if you’ve been experiencing pelvic pain for an extended period, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to determine the cause of your pain.
- Endometriosis - A painful condition where the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus and attaches itself to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the wall of the uterus, and even other organs. Though not necessarily dangerous, endometriosis can cause pelvic pain along with other issues.
- Uterine fibroids - noncancerous tumors that grow inside or outside of the uterine wall. Doctors are not sure what causes fibroids, but believe them to be hormone-related. Some fibroids grow large, driving longer, heavier, and more painful periods. Fibroids can cause pelvic pain, bloating and pressure, and pain during sexual intercourse.
- 1 in 5 women will develop pelvic pain during pregnancy called pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)
- Adenomyosis - A condition when the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the uterine wall. Though not considered life-threatening, the condition can cause pelvic pain.
Symptoms of Pelvic Pain
Some pelvic pain symptoms include:
- Menstrual pain and cramping
- Pelvic pressure with gas or bloating
- Painful or difficult urination
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Painful sexual intercourse
What are the Causes of Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is not limited to women; men can also be affected by pelvic pain. As with women,
men's pelvic pain can be related to the male reproductive system. Other possible causes for pelvic pain include:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STDs)
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Pelvic Pain Risk Factors
Pelvic pain is a common problem among women. Frequent risk factors for pelvic pain include:
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – an infection of the reproductive organs
- Ovarian cysts
- Recent childbirth
When to See a Doctor
If you find that your pelvic pain becomes chronic, disrupts your daily life, or symptoms worsen, contact your health care provider to determine whether a more serious underlying factor is the cause of your pelvic pain. There are NewYork-Presbyterian doctors available who specialize in treating issues associated with pelvic pain.
Address Your Pelvic Pain Symptoms at NewYork-Presbyterian
NewYork-Presbyterian has developed a unique approach to personalized care for women experiencing pelvic pain. It’s important to discuss your symptoms with a doctor in order to properly treat and diagnose the cause of your pelvic pain.