Of all the mysterious pains we feel from time to time, pelvic pain is the least welcomed. Pelvic pain refers to pain in the region of women's reproductive organs. But this kind of discomfort isn’t similar to a small pinch in your back or a knot in the sole of your feet; pelvic pain can feel suspicious, scary, and frustrating.
But before you go to WebMD for answers, let’s cover some of the most common causes of this kind of pain outside of monthly menstrual cramps. As always, we encourage you to see your primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment!
Urinary Tract Infection
Commonly known as a UTI, a urinary tract infection is an infection of your urinary system, including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. Normally, urine moves through your urinary system without any contamination, but periodically, bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body, causing problems like infection and inflammation. UTIs often manifest with pelvic pain as well as trouble urinating, a burning sensation while you pee, and pain during sex, but they’re very easy to treat with over-the-counter medications!
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Pelvic pain can give you a heads up that you have a sexually-transmitted infection, with gonorrhea and chlamydia infections causing pain most often. These infections can not only cause pelvic pain but also pain when you pee, bleeding between periods, and abnormal vaginal discharge.
There are numerous treatment options for sexually-transmitted diseases so if you’re experiencing pain and other symptoms like pain during sex or a fever, book an appointment with The Source for a free STI test. Be sure to let your sexual partners know if you test positive for an STI to ensure they get treatment as well!
Ovarian cysts are sacs that are located in an ovary or on its surface that are usually filled with fluid. Ovarian cysts are common and most women have them yet they experience little or no discomfort. In fact, most cysts go away within a few months without treatment.
Sometimes ovarian cysts burst open which can cause serious symptoms including pelvic pain that’s either dull or a sharp pain in the lower abdomen toward one side. Thankfully, there are medicines that help treat cysts, but be sure to consult your doctor if you suspect you have a cyst!
Sometimes our uterus does things that are out of the ordinary but largely harmless. One of those anomalies is adenomyosis. This happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. While the tissue acts normally during each menstrual cycle, you may experience painful, heavy periods, and your uterus may become enlarged. There are some noninvasive remedies available to help such as hormone treatments.
Pelvic pain is one of the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants anywhere except the lining of the uterus such as a fallopian tube, ovary, or cervix (lower part of the uterus).
This kind of pregnancy is unfortunately not viable and life threatening, so if your pelvic pain is accompanied by a positive pregnancy test, shoulder pain, and extreme lightheadedness or fainting, consult your doctor immediately.
Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue that’s similar to uterine-lining tissue grows outside the uterus instead inside of it. Each menstrual cycle, this outer tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds like normal uterine tissue but because this tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped causing pain and irritation. Pain associated with endometriosis is most common during each menstrual cycle, but thankfully there are medications available to help.
Miscarriage refers to the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. While 10%-20% of pregnancies end early in miscarriage, pregnancy loss happens at a much higher rate since they often occur early in the pregnancy before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Miscarriages are often accompanied by pelvic pain as well as cramping in your abdomen or lower back, spotting, fluid passing from the vagina, heavy bleeding, and passing of clots.
Little is known about what causes miscarriages. In fact, with very few exceptions, there’s nearly nothing you or your doctor can do to affect whether or not you will have a miscarriage. If you’re concerned that your pelvic pain is a symptom of a miscarriage, call your doctor immediately for advice on next steps.
If you struggle with periodic or chronic pelvic pain, we’re so sorry to hear that! Come in to see us as one of our locations and we can help you get the care you need. Click the image below to schedule a free well woman or GYN appointment today!