Ask the Doctor: Is Pelvic Pain Normal?

Q. I have been having pelvic pain for a while now.  What could it be from?  Should I be worried?

 

A. Pelvic pain can come from many causes and even from several systems of the body including. Before you start alleviating the pain with medication, it’s a good idea to get a proper diagnosis, since the pain is often a symptom, not the problem itself.

pelvis pain 300x254 Ask the Doctor: Is Pelvic Pain Normal? PhotoDiscomfort can be quite severe and stressful for both sexes and disrupt daily living. When pelvic pain has lasted at least 6 months, it is labeled chronic, while under 6 months is considered to be acute. Acute pain may be a symptom of infection of the pelvic bone, bladder or colon, but there are many causes.

 

Causes of pelvic pain

In both men and women, pelvic pain can be caused by:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Appendicitis
  • Colon cancer
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Kidney stones
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Prostatitis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pelvic floor pain syndrome
  • Sexually transmitted disease

 

In women, the cause could also be associated with various parts of the female reproductive system:

  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
  • Ovulation pain
  • Adenomyosis
  • Myomas (fibroids)
  • Endometriosis
  • Pregnancy related conditions
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Vulvodynia
  • Cervical and Uterine Polyps

 

As you can see, the list is quite large and varied.  If the pain becomes sudden or severe, the symptom may be signaling a medical emergency necessitating an emergency evaluation.

Some of the causes can be treated with diets geared to management of the condition while others can dissipate spontaneously over time.  However, some can be quite serious.

Additional reasons to have a doctor’s evaluation include:

  • Pain is increasing in intensity and getting worse
  • Pain is new with cause undiagnosed as yet
  • The pain is making you unable to function with daily activities
  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Blood seen in a bowel movement
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain with intercourse

 

Tests You May Undergo

For proper evaluation, you may be subject to some tests such as:

  • Urine test for blood, white blood cells, bacteria, culture
  • Pregnancy test
  • Penile or vaginal cultures
  • Abdominal and pelvic x-rays
  • Abdominal and pelvic ultrasounds
  • Stool test for blood
  • Colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hysteroscopy

 

Bring a list when you see your physician including what makes the pain worse or better, when was the onset, and additional symptoms that you experienced since the onset of the pain along with temperature charts and a list of prior medical and surgical problems.

Your treatment will be based on your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms.  Good luck and I hope you feel better soon!