When you experience pelvic pain, you typically feel some kind of discomfort or pressure in the areas where your reproductive organs are located. However, the causes of pelvic pain can also be non-reproductive in origin. What are the possible causes of pelvic pain in women?
Pelvic Pain, Described
Pelvic pain occurs in the lower abdomen, between the belly button and the groin. The specifics of the problem depend on the cause and may vary from woman to woman.
For instance, it can be sudden and sharp (acute) or steady and dull. You may feel the pain in a specific spot within the pelvic region or the entire abdomen. The pain can also be chronic, which indicates that the pain lasts for more than 6 months.
Possible Causes of Pelvic Pain
Pelvic discomfort in a woman may happen due to:
Ovulation and menstrual cramps
When the ovary releases an egg cell (ovulation), you may feel pelvic pain that ranges from a mild twinge to severe discomfort. The ovulation pain occurs on one side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary releases the egg.
Of course, during menstruation, pelvic pain (menstrual cramps) may also happen due to the high levels of prostaglandins. These hormone-like substances help the uterine muscles contract to expel blood and tissues.
Pregnancy and pregnancy-related issues
Some women experience pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) due to stiff or unevenly moving pelvic joints.
Apart from PGP, the other possible causes of pelvic pain include pregnancy issues, such as ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.
When the fertilization happens in organs outside the womb, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries (ectopic pregnancy), a woman may feel dull or sharp pelvic pain. Miscarriage pain, on the other hand, generally feels like cramps, which can be mild or intense.
Both ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage pain can be accompanied by light to heavy vaginal bleeding.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in one or both of the ovaries. Cysts in the ovary are common, and in most cases, do not cause any symptoms. In fact, many cysts go away on their own without treatment. However, if the fluid-filled sacs burst or become twisted, they may lead to acute pelvic pain.
Uterine issues, like endometriosis and fibroids (myoma), may also cause pelvic discomfort in women.
In endometriosis, the same tissues that line the uterus and bleed during your monthly period grow in other nearby organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Because these tissues grow, swell, and bleed in areas where they cannot be expelled, the woman may experience pelvic pain.
Another one of the possible causes of pelvic pain is myoma or uterine fibroid, a condition wherein the woman has non-cancerous growths in their womb. The weight or the pressure of the growths in the pelvic organs may lead to discomfort in the pelvic region.
Finally, a uterine prolapse can also cause pelvic discomfort. Uterine prolapse happens when the uterus “dips” from its original position.
Besides the uterus, the other organs in the pelvis can also dip and cause pelvic pain.
A prolapse is often not life-threatening and can be improved by pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
PID or pelvic inflammatory disease may also result in pelvic discomfort in women. It happens when there is an infection in the woman’s reproductive organs, namely the uterus, the ovaries, or the fallopian tubes.
Usually, pelvic inflammatory disease happens after sexually-transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The other symptoms of PID to watch out for are bleeding during sexual intercourse, pain during urination, and fever.
PID is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. Treatment primarily involves getting rid of the infection through antibiotic therapy.
Finally, doctors emphasize that women should never ignore an on-going or continuous abdominal discomfort, especially when it comes with other symptoms like indigestion and bloating, as it can be indicative of either endometrial or ovarian cancer.
The pain usually results from growing tumors that put pressure on or destroy nearby organ tissues, nerves, and bones. Moreover, tumor growths can produce chemicals that cause pain and discomfort.
Possible Non-reproductive Causes of Pelvic Pain
Besides the above-mentioned causes, the following non-reproductive health conditions can also result in pelvic pain or discomfort:
- Urinary tract infections
- Peritonitis, or the inflammation of the tissues lining the abdomen
- Irritable bowel syndrome, a long-term digestive condition that causes abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea
When to Seek Medical Help
A doctor must check any kind of unexplained pain. If you develop sudden and severe pelvic pain, seek medical help right away. Also, set an appointment with your physician if the pelvic pain:
- Occurs without explanation
- Interferes with your daily routine
- Has worsened over time
- Is accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating and indigestion
- Includes menstrual cramps that last longer than your monthly period
The possible causes of pelvic pain in women can be both reproductive and non-reproductive in origin. To be on the safe side, talk to your doctor if you suddenly develop pelvic discomfort, especially if other unexplained symptoms accompany it.
Learn more about women’s pelvic issues here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.