Pelvic pain is a blanket term describing any pain occurring below the belly button, in the lowest part of the abdomen and pelvis. Pain can affect the reproductive, digestive, musculoskeletal, urinary, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Pelvic pain may indicate the presence of an infection, such as a urinary tract infection.
The majority of causes of pelvic pain are benign but can become serious if left untreated. The most common causes of pelvic pain in women are related to their menstrual cycle. Menstruation, ovulation, and pregnancy are three of the most common causes of pelvic pain in women.
The treatment of pelvic pain depends on the cause, but common treatment options include:
Some conditions that cause pelvic pain require special diets, such as gluten-free or low FOD map diets. Reducing your intake of sugary, greasy, and processed foods can help alleviate some pelvic pain.
Drink more water.
Eat slowly and smaller portions.
Avoid foods you are allergic to or have an intolerance for.
Over-the-counter medication for pain, bloating, or gas relief
Prescription medication for pain or to treat a specific disease
Birth control for those with a uterus
Surgery: In some cases, you will need surgery to treat your symptoms. Cancer and appendicitis are two common causes of pelvic pain that may require surgery.
For those whose pelvic pain is directly related to their pregnancy, birthing the baby may reduce their pelvic pain. Some women may experience an increase in pain while giving birth and shortly thereafter before the pain dissipates.
Pain occurring in the lowest part of the abdomen, lower back, buttocks, or thighs
Vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
Pain during intercourse or while urinating or defecating
Bloating or gas
Blood present in your urine or stool
Difficulties with or inability to control urinating or defecating
The pain may range from mild to severe in intensity and can be constant or intermittent.
Seek immediate medical attention if your sudden, intense abdominal pain is solely on the right side of your abdomen and is accompanied by:
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Constipation or diarrhea
Bloating and flatulence
These can be symptoms of appendicitis, which may be caused by a ruptured appendix or a pus pocket in your abdomen.
If your pelvic pain lasts more than several weeks or progressively worsens, you should seek medical attention. Your healthcare professional will inquire about your symptoms’ frequency, location, severity, and duration. They will inquire about your sexual activities, complete medical history, and familial history related to pelvic pain before conducting a physical exam.
For those living with a uterus, you may not know when to seek medical attention. Pelvic pain is a common experience during menstruation. Documenting the severity of any cramps, nausea, and bloating, along with any other symptoms you experience while menstruating over the course of several months, can help you determine when you should visit your general practitioner or gynecologist.
Following a physical exam, your doctor may order diagnostic testing such as:
Blood, stool, or urine analysis
Vaginal or penile cultures to check for STI
Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
Causes of pelvic pain include, but are not limited to:
Cystitis or interstitial cystitis
Diseases affecting reproductive organs
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Sexually transmitted illness
Sore or tight pelvic muscles
Testicular or ovarian torsion
Trauma or injury
Urinary or kidney stones
Urinary tract infections
Causes specific to those with uteruses:
Ectopic pregnancy: occurs when embryo implants itself anywhere outside of the uterus
Mittelschmerz: painful ovulation
Ovarian cysts or cancer
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic organ prolapse
Women are more likely to experience pelvic pain than men.