Chronic Pelvic Pain: What It Can Mean and What You Can Do About It

Constant or intermittent pain, be it aching and dull or sharp and breathtaking, should give you cause for concern, especially when it centers in your pelvis.

The pelvis houses several important organs with critical bodily functions. Your pain means there could be a problem that will cause life-altering effects in time if you do not care for yourself.

If you’re feeling that dull or sharp pain, constantly or intermittently, you have chronic pelvic pain. Keep reading to learn about the potential causes and treatments for your discomfort.

Chronic Pelvic Pain Diagnosis

Officially, doctors will diagnose pelvic pain as chronic pelvic pain when it fits this criterion:

  • The pain is beneath your belly button.
  • The pain is between your hips
  • The pain lasts for six months or longer
  • The pain can be either intermittent or constant
  • The pain can be either dull or sharp
  • You have a feeling of fullness with the pain
  • You have a feeling of heaviness deep in your pelvis

You should also have a concern if the pain causes enough discomfort to keep you home from work. If you find yourself wanting to lie down because lying down alleviates the pain, then you should call a doctor and schedule an appointment.

Potential Causes of Chronic Pelvic Pain

Anything from psychological causes to serious infections can cause chronic pelvic pain. Here are some of the most common causes that a doctor will check for.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common causes of pelvic pain. In fact, more than half the population of adult women will have a UTI some time in their lifetime. Women above age 60 are particularly susceptible to the infection.

Bacteria typically causes UTIs. The infection can stem from the urinary tract to the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.

You may have a UTI if you experience these symptoms:

  • The constant need to urinate, even when nothing comes ou
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Pressure in the pelvis
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pain in your lower back

When you go to the doctor, you will have to provide a urine sample. The lab tech will be able to tell in a matter of minutes if you have an infection. If you do have a UTI, the doctor will send you home with an antibiotic and possibly pain medication to help you tolerate the discomfort until the infection clears up.

Endometrial Pain

The endometrium is the cells that line your uterus. When those cells grow out of control on your organs such as your ovaries or bladder, you have endometriosis. Think of those cells like a thick web wrapped around your organs, squeezing them and causing pain.

If you experience pain surrounding your period or during or after sex, you may have endometriosis. You could also have the following symptoms:

  • Pain with your bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Pain with urinating
  • Infertility
  • A bloated abdomen

Endometriosis does not have a quick and easy solution. Sometimes doctors will suggest a surgical option that clears out the endometriosis, especially if it is causing infertility. The only long-term solution is a full hysterectomy.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The pain may have nothing to do with your reproductive organs. Rather you could have problems with your bowel. Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes inflammation in your bowels, can cause significant pelvic pain.

If you struggle with excretion problems such as constipation or diarrhea along with loading, flatulence, and incontinence, you may have IBS. Doctors can prescribe medication that will alleviate the symptoms of IBS.

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids also cause significant pelvic pain. They are small, noncancerous tumors that attach to the side of a uterus. You could have had them for years but just now began experiencing pain with them.

If you have heavy periods along with a feeling of pressure or fullness in your abdomen, hemorrhoids, constipation, and the need to urinate frequently, you could have fibroids. Doctors can go in and remove the fibroids surgically to alleviate the pain.

Pelvic Support Problems

As women age, their pelvic muscles and ligaments weaken. The organs held by these muscles and ligaments can shift and then herniate in the vagina, causing significant pain.

Women who have had difficult pregnancies or traumatic births are most prone to pelvic support problems. The following symptoms accompany pelvic support problems:

  • Incontinence or leaky urine.
  • The feeling like your vagina is not holding things in
  • Painful, difficult bowel movements
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex

Your doctor will most likely begin with a conservative approach like physical therapy with a pelvic floor specialist. The specialist will give you exercises you can do at home to strengthen the muscles.

If your case is severe, your doctor may prescribe a surgical solution.

Psychological Causes

Your pain could stem from psychological reasons. This does not mean the pain is fake. You still may feel very real pain with psychological roots.

If you’ve experienced severe trauma such as sexual abuse or assault, you may feel pelvic pain. You will also have accompanying symptoms such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and stress.

In these cases, a doctor might prescribe antidepressants or have you see a therapist. You should also consider some homeopathic remedies as you work out the root of the pain. For example, medical marijuana for chronic pain has done wonders for individuals suffering daily.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is one of the more serious conditions that your chronic pelvic pain could indicate. PID typically comes from a sexually transmitted bacterial infection.

You do not acquire PID randomly. If you’ve had gonorrhea or chlamydia, you’re especially susceptible.

The bacteria enter the body through the vagina and then infect the fallopian tubes and then moves into the ovaries and uterus.

If you have severe pain accompanied by fever, nausea, and fatigue, contact your doctor immediately. You can die from PID if you do not treat it. It will not go away on its own.

Seek Medical Care

If you’re experiencing chronic pelvic pain, seek medical attention. A doctor will diagnose you quickly, and you’ll receive the treatment and care that you need. You do not need to just grit your teeth and bear it monthly.

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