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Chronic Pelvic Pain—Female

(Pelvic Pain, Chronic)

Definition

Pelvic pain occurs between the belly button and the hips and groin. It is chronic when it lasts for six months or more.

Female Pelvic Organs

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Causes

Many things can cause pelvic pain, such as:

In others, the cause is not known.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

Symptoms

Pain can vary from person to person. A person may have:

  • Constant pain or a dull ache
  • Burning, shooting pain
  • An urgent need to pass stool
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Pain that ranges from mild to severe
  • Pain with certain activities
  • Pain with lengthy sitting

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about the pain. A physical exam may be done.

These tests may be done to look for a cause:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Images, such as x-rays and ultrasound
  • Minimally invasive surgeries—to view or test tissue

Treatment

Underlying causes will be treated.

The goal of treatment is to manage pain. Choices are:

  • Medicines, to ease pain, such as:
    • Over the counter or prescription pain relievers
    • Hormone therapy for pain related to the reproductive system
    • Antidepressants or anti-seizure medicines
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture
  • Mental health counseling to learn to manage unhealthy thought patterns that make it harder to cope with pain

Prevention

Prevention will depend on the cause. Some causes cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES:

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

The International Pelvic Pain Society
http://www.pelvicpain.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org

REFERENCES:

Chronic pelvic pain. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2020/03/chronic-pelvic-pain. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Chronic pelvic pain. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chronic-pelvic-pain.html. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Chronic pelvic pain in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-pelvic-pain-in-women. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Speer LM, Mushkbar S, et al. Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Mar 1;93(5):380-387.

Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 2/15/2021