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Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women

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Introduction

Chronic pelvic pain is a common condition that affects 15-20% of all women between the ages of 18 and 50 years. There are many reasons which could cause this condition. Chronic pelvic pain can affect all aspects of your life, including your work, physical activity levels, family life, sleeping patterns, and your sexual life.

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What is chronic pelvic pain in women?

The pelvic region is the area below the belly button up to your hips. Any pain in the region that lasts for more than 6 months, while not being pregnant, is called chronic pelvic pain. The type of pain associated with this condition is specific to the woman. Some women find that the pain manifests in intervals, while others feel a constant pain that can be quite debilitating.

There could be many reasons for chronic pelvic pain in women. If the underlying cause for the condition is identified, then treating the same could resolve the pain. However, if no cause is identified, then your medical team will work with you to manage the pain.

What are the causes of chronic pelvic pain in women?

Some of the underlying issues that can cause chronic pelvic pain in women includes:

  • ● Endometriosis
  • ● Adenomyosis
  • ● Uterine fibroids
  • ● Presence of scar tissue in the region after surgery or an infection
  • ● Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • ● Chronic bladder irritation
  • ● Muscular or joint issues in the pelvis, hips, or lower back
  • ● Psychological factors like depression, stress, and sexual assault

In most cases, chronic pelvic pain in women is a symptom of an underlying and sometimes serious issue.

What are the symptoms of chronic pelvic pain in women?

As mentioned above, the symptoms and severity of the pain associated with the condition vary from person to person. You might find the pain focused on a single spot, while other women will experience pain in the entire pelvic region.

You might find that the quality of pain can also differ. Some of the different ways in which the pain can present itself are:

  • ● Dull and aching
  • ● Sharp pain with or without cramps
  • ● Steady and severe pain
  • ● A feeling of pressure or heaviness within the pelvis

Along with the pain, you might also find several other symptoms indicative of chronic pelvic pain in women. These include:

  • ● Pain during intercourse
  • ● Pain after sitting for long periods
  • ● Pain when having a bowel movement or when passing urine

Once your doctor has established that you are suffering from chronic pelvic pain, they will move to identify the cause of the pain. They might recommend an extensive set of diagnostic tests to do the same.

How is chronic pelvic pain in women diagnosed?

Your doctors will use the process of elimination to identify the cause of the condition. You might also be asked to keep a diary tracking the pain and other symptoms. Your doctor will need to know aspects regarding your lifestyle, personal medical history, and family medical history as well.

Some of the diagnostic tests you might have to undergo include:

  • ● Pelvic exam
  • ● Lab tests
  • ● Ultrasound
  • ● Imaging tests
  • ● Laparoscopy

The diagnostic process can be a long one and, in some cases, might not yield a definitive answer. No matter the test’s outcome, your medical team will work with you to resolve the condition.

What are the treatment options for chronic pain in women?

If the diagnostic tests bring up a definitive cause for the pain, you will be treated for the underlying issue.  However, if no cause is identified, then your medical team will work with you to manage the pain.

Some of the treatment plans for chronic pelvic pain in women are:

  • ● Pain relievers
  • ● Hormone treatments
  • ● Antibiotics
  • ● Antidepressants
  • ● Physical therapy
  • ● Trigger point injections
  • ● Neurostimulation
  • ● Psychotherapy
  • ● Hysterectomy
  • ● Laparoscopic surgery.

What is the outlook for chronic pelvic pain in women?

The prognosis for this condition is dependent on the underlying issue and if it is diagnosed on time. . If no underlying issue is diagnosed, then pain management can go a long way in reducing your pain and restoring your quality of life.

Risks of the Surgery

The two surgeries corrects underlying issues for chronic pelvic pain are laparoscopy and hysterectomy. The complications that can arise from these surgeries include:

  • ● Abnormal bleeding
  • ● Infections at the site of surgery
  • ● Blood clots
  • ● Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
  • ● Damage to the surrounding organs.

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FAQ's

What is the Most Common Cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women?

The most common cause of the condition is musculoskeletal issues like fibromyalgia, pelvic floor muscle tension, inflammation of the pubic joint, or hernia.

When should I be Concerned About Pelvic Pain?

If you experience a sudden onset of pelvic pain accompanied by the development of a fever, nausea, chills, or vomiting within 24 hours, then you must seek immediate medical attention.

Can Stress and Depression Cause Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women?

Yes. There have been many instances that have shown a connection between stress and depression and chronic pelvic pain. Psychological factors often cause somatic changes in the body that we are mostly unaware of. Effective management of stress is important not just for your mental health but also for your overall physical health.

Can Yoga Help with Chronic Pelvic Pain?

If no underlying issue can be detected for the condition, then yoga can be a great tool to help manage the pain. Full body stretches that concentrate on the pelvic region can contribute to reducing pain in the region.

Is Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women Affected by Lifestyle Choices?

Some poor lifestyles can worsen the pain caused by the condition. We have already established the effects of stress. Other habits or behaviours that can increase the pain are not staying hydrated enough, poor posture, wearing tight underwear or clothes that do not breathe, heavy exercises that put pressure on your pelvic region, and the use of perfumed products in the vaginal area.

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