Don’t let pelvic pain put a damper on your weight-loss resolution – i.e., that sexy six pack you’ve been dreaming of all year long.
While mainly associated with your monthly visitor (menstrual cramps), pelvic pain is often a mystery and may be indicating a more serious health issue. To get relief, your first step (after the totally legit complaining) should be figuring out what’s wrong.
The following are examples of the different types of pelvic pain most commonly described by women, and their possible cause or origin. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Localized pain: May be due to an inflammation
Cramping: May be caused by a spasm in a soft organ, such as the intestine, ureter, or appendix
Sudden onset of pain: May be caused by a temporary deficiency of blood supply due to an obstruction in the circulation of blood
Slowly-developing pain: May be due to inflammation of the appendix or an intestinal obstruction
Pain involving the entire abdomen: May suggest an accumulation of blood, pus, or intestinal contents
Pain aggravated by movement or during exam: May be a result of irritation in the lining of the abdominal cavity
It could also be:
Adenomyosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus, called the endometrium, is found inside the muscular wall of the uterus itself. It can cause severe menstrual cramps with heavy, prolonged bleeding.
Some women with adenomyosis feel pain between periods, during sexual activity, or with bowel movements or urination. Pain may feel like a lower backache or radiate down one or both legs.
Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus and attaches to other organs or structures in the body, such as the fallopian tubes or the ovaries. These abnormal growths are called endometrial implants, and along with adhesions—scar tissue that can cause internal organs to bind together—can inflame surrounding tissues.
Endometriosis does not need to cover extensive areas of the pelvic organs to cause pain; even microscopic implants can cause aching or stabbing pain. The pain may occur only during menstruation or at various times throughout the menstrual cycle. Many women with endometriosis also have adenomyosis.
Fibroids are typically benign, or noncancerous, masses of tissue that grow on the inner or outer wall of the uterus. Most fibroids don’t cause pelvic pain unless they’re large and press against other organs or nerves.
For some women, fibroids cause discomfort or pain between periods, as well as during menstruation, urination, bowel movements, or sexual activity. The condition can also lead to heavy periods or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that causes frequent urination and mild to severe pain in the bladder and the surrounding area. It can cause discomfort with sexual activity or urination, an urgent need to urinate, and pressure and tenderness in the pelvis. Symptoms may be mistaken for a urinary tract infection and can vary with diet.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or other benign (noncancerous) growths that can form in or on the ovaries. They may cause pain in the pelvis, especially if they bleed or rupture, or in the low back. Pain may strike suddenly or be ongoing; it may feel like a dull ache or a lingering pressure as the cyst pushes on another pelvic organ, such as the bladder. Exercise, urination, sexual activity, or menstruation may make the pain worse.
Some ovarian cysts go away without treatment, but some may require surgery, especially those related to endometriosis or other conditions. Large ovarian cysts may cause the ovary to twist, cutting off its blood supply, possibly requiring emergency surgery to save the ovary.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic congestion syndrome results from pelvic varicose veins, which are