Patient's Complete Guide to Chronic Pelvic Pain
Overview of Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain is a common condition that can include multiple causes. Once diagnosed correctly, problems can be treated through medication, physical therapy, or surgical procedures.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain, as the name indicates, is consistent extreme pain that affects your pelvic region and lasts for at least six months. The continuous pain in the lower abdominal area occurs because of the change in pain perception mechanism of your body.
In case of chronic pelvic pain, pain receptors in your body become more aggressive and start triggering normal healthy painless sensations as painful for the body. The pain in the area is usually associated with sexual and reproductive functions.
If remain untreated, the pain can grow severe and the problem may require medicinal treatment. The problem affects more women in comparison to males.
Types of Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain can have different signs and symptoms of the problem. These include:
- Mild to severe pain
- Episodes of pain
- Pressure sensation
- Inability to perform high intensity physical activities
Risk Factors of Chronic Pelvic Pain
There are many possible causes of chronic pelvic pain. Sometimes, there are more than one factor responsible for persistent pelvic pain. Some of these factors include:
- Gynecological: Certain gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, ovarian remnants syndrome, pelvic congestion syndrome etc. can cause chronic pelvic pain.
- Digestive Causes: Suffering from digestive health problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be one reason that you are suffering from chronic pelvic pain.
- Urinary Issues: Problems with the urinary system can also contribute to chronic pelvic pain. Urinary tract infections, painful bladder syndrome cause pelvic pain.
- Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This refers to a chronic infection affecting the pelvic area, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes. The infection is caused by sexually tranmitted diseases causing bacteria and is one prominent cause of chronic pelvic disease.
- Pelvic Support Problems: A lesser pelvic support due to weakened muscles and ligaments in pelvic region can cause chronic pelvic pain. This dislocates organs in the pelvic area and causes problems like pelvic pain and other complications during childbirth.
- Cancers: Different types of cancers can also cause chronic pelvic pain. These include cervical, vaginal, endometrial and ovarian cancer etc.
- Psychological Factors: Alongside all these factors, many psychological factors can also cause chronic pelvic pain. These include stress, history of sexual abuse, depression etc.
Chronic pelvic pain can come from any of the causes mentioned above. However, a few things that can increase our risk of suffering from chronic pelvic pain include:
- Consumption of alcohol
- Suffering from miscarriages
- Problems with menstrual flow
- Psychological factors including trauma or abuse
- Previous history of C-section
You can prevent pelvic pain and associated complications by keeping an eye on symptoms and seeking medical help on time.
Treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain | When to Consult a Doctor
Chronic pelvic pain diagnosis can include several steps. Here are the procedures that you will come across while figuring out the causes of chronic pelvic pain:
- Physical Examination: Whenever you head to the physician complaining of pelvic pain that lasts longer than 6 months, pelvic examination is the first step. Your physician can ask you a few questions to inquire about your disease background and classify the pain.
- The inquiries may involve questions regarding your menstrual cycle, pain during sexual activity, bowel movement, infection history or details about pelvic surgical procedures you have gone through.
- Culture Testing: This involves obtaining vaginal and penile cultures to rule out the possibility of infection. Culture testing also includes obtaining culture from stool.
- Blood Tests: Different types of blood tests can help your doctor to figure out the root cause of the problem. Some of the blood tests include progesterone and estrogen testing. Results from these tests can be helpful in predicting your reproductive health.
- Pelvic Imaging: Different types of techniques including , ultrasounds, X-rays, MRI and CT scans can help your physician to visualize your pelvic health status. These imaging techniques reveal the inside structure and tell if there is any abnormal growth in the pelvic region.
- Laparoscopy: This minimally invasive surgical procedure is also known as keyhole surgery and is used to visualize the inner areas of your abdominal region. Other than laparoscopy, hysteroscopy is another such technique that enables the visualization of the uterus.