Pelvic Pain in Women

Women’s primary reproductive organs are nestled in the pelvic region, leaving woman more susceptible to pelvic pain than men. Some of the more common potential causes of female-specific pelvic pain may include:

  • Menstrual Cramps – Also known as dysmenorrhea, it is very common for women to experience cramping just before and during their periods. For some women, this cramping may be a minor annoyance, but for others it may be excruciating and may interfere with activities for several days. Dysmenorrhea may occur with no underlying cause, or may be indicative of a more serious condition. If cramping is regular and worrisome, discuss the pain with your gynecologist.

  • Endometriosis – This condition causes the uterine lining, or endometrium, to grow outside of the uterus, such as on the outer wall of the uterus, the ovaries, or the bowels. Patients often experience severely painful menstruation, and may develop ovarian cysts, as well as scar tissue or adhesions in their abdomen. In addition to dysmenorrhea, patients may experience pain during intercourse, painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation, infertility, and fatigue.

  • Adenomyosis – A displacement of the uterine lining, causing the lining to grow into the uterine wall. For some women, this only causes mild discomfort, but for others it may cause severe cramping during menstruation, blood clots that pass during menstruation, and painful intercourse. For women who experience extreme discomfort, some treatments may reduce symptoms, but the condition will not truly go away until menstruation ends, either through menopause or hysterectomy.

  • Ectopic Pregnancy – This occurs when a fertilized egg becomes implanted anywhere other than the uterus, most commonly in one of the fallopian tubes. These pregnancies cannot be carried out to completion. The embryo cannot survive outside of the uterus, and if left untreated an ectopic pregnancy may be life-threatening to the patient. An ectopic pregnancy will still cause a positive result on a pregnancy test, as well as standard signs of pregnancy – a missed period, breast tenderness, and nausea. An ectopic pregnancy, however, may cause light vaginal bleeding and pain in the abdomen or pelvic region. An ectopic pregnancy may be discovered during a regular pregnancy check-up. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe pain accompanied by vaginal bleeding, extreme lightheadedness or fainting, or shoulder pain, which may be a sign of referred pain from a ruptured fallopian tube.

  • Ovarian Cysts – Ovarian cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on an ovary. Many women develop cysts with no symptoms or complications, while others experience pelvic pain, especially during or before menstruation, during intercourse, or during bowel movements, pressure on the bladder, or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen. Most cysts will go away on their own within a few months, but if pain is problematic, your doctor may try birth control pills or surgery.


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