When something goes awry in a woman’s body, pelvic pain can be a signal that’s desperately trying to catch your attention. Organs in the pelvis include your bowels, bladder, womb, and ovaries. Next comes the pelvic bone or muscles, nerves, and joints. And any of these could contribute to pelvic pain.
For the first time, May is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month, so we want to highlight certain risk factors, early symptoms, and signs that indicate you should seek help with a medical professional.
HelloGiggles spoke with Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MA from the University of Chicago, who says, “Common causes of pelvic pain range from gynecologic problems like endometriosis to vaginismus to skin conditions.” She says this might “result from too much cleaning and wiping of the vulva or from changes due to low estrogen as happens with menopause.”
Whatever the case may be, you won’t ever know the cause until you speak to a professional. So if any of the below sound familiar, don’t hesitate to call up your doctor.
Here are a few reasons why you could be experiencing pelvic pain.
When an embryo grows outside of the uterus, it’s an ectopic pregnancy. The result is a sharp pain on one side of the pelvis. Vaginal bleeding, nausea, and dizziness are all symptoms that may also occur.
Moreover, a recent student from the Imperial College London discovered a connection to PTSD. The study said that miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies can result in post-traumatic stress disorder later on, and you don’t want it to come to that, so don’t wait to find out what you’re dealing with.
An often overlooked condition is Interstitial Cystitis, or IC. At first, it it typically misdiagnosed as a chronic UTI. The walls of the bladder become inflamed which cause long-term and debilitating pain, particularly in the pelvis. Accompanying symptoms with IC are urgently urinating (up to 60 times a day) and painful intercourse.
3 Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID occurs from complications with STIs. The inflammation can cause damage to the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Symptoms for PID are pain during intercourse, pain during urination, and abnormal discharge. Letting PID go untreated can cause serious side affects like infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.
4 Ovarian cysts
Fluid filled areas within the ovary accumulate after an egg fails to release. This results in ovarian cysts, which can come in many different shapes and sizes. Side affects include pelvic pain, pressure, and pain after intercourse. When cysts are larger, painful urination and pelvic pain occur as well.
“Around 10 percent of ovulating women in the US have endometriosis, and it takes on average 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis,” wrote Olivia Goldhill in an article for Quartz.
When the growth of endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, the tissue may attach to the ovaries, bladder, or intestines. Since endometrial tissue breaks down monthly, the remnants of the tissue remain in the pelvis and result in pain. If you suffer from endometriosis, you’re certainly not alone, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help.
6 Urinary tract infection (UTI)
UTIs are a drag, as many of us know. Pelvic pain can often be a sign of this persistent infection, and it will cause frequent urges to urinate. Basic treatment includes antibiotics, but permanent kidney damage is possible if left untreated.
If you think you’re suffering from a UTI, rest up and drink plenty of fluids. However, don’t think you can just will away symptoms like pelvic pain and fever. You need to see a doctor to get rid of the infection.
What sort of treatments are out there for pelvic pain?
“Women should ask their doctors or other healthcare providers for help with pelvic pain and painful intercourse,” she tells HG. “If the provider is not able to evaluate or treat, a woman should ask for a referral to someone who can help.”
Always remember that these are very real health problems that should be brought to a doctor immediately. You deserve the best treatment, no matter what anyone else has told you.
So, you have pelvic pain. Now what?
When we asked Dr. Lindau when a woman should contact her doctor about pelvic pain, her reply was direct.
“When shouldn’t a woman contact a doctor about her pelvic pain? Pain is not a normal state. It typically indicates something is wrong,” she advises. Can’t argue with that.
For Pelvic Pain Awareness Month, various organizations are coming together to raise awareness for certain issues that result in pelvic pain. The Pelvic Pain Society aims to educate health care professionals and bring light to women and men who suffer from chronic pelvic pain. Keep up with these organizations and see