Chronic Pelvic Pain

What You Need to Know

Chronic pelvic pain is defined as at least six months of noncyclical pain that is experienced in the lower abdomen below the navel, lower back, buttocks or genitals. This pain is often severe enough to interfere with daily life and activity. It is associated with negative cognitive, behavioral, emotional and sexual states. It is a very common reason for individuals to seek out medical care. Often, the underlying cause of the pain cannot be found; however, the painful symptoms can be successfully managed.

Causes

Chronic pelvic pain can be caused by scar tissue that develops following surgery, overfilling of the veins in the pelvis, referred pain from another part of the body. It can also be caused by fibroids, also known as benign tumors of the uterus. Conditions such as endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic prostatitis, and interstitial cystitis, also known as inflammation of the bladder wall, may also result in chronic pelvic pain. It is important to remember that the underlying cause of pelvic pain cannot always be determined.

Symptoms

  • Dull pain, spread throughout the entire pelvis.
  • Pain levels that fluctuate in conjunction with bodily functions and changes such as bowel movement, urination, sexual intercourse, menses, postural changes, or pregnancy.
  • Sharp pain emanating from a specific location.

Pelvic pain can present differently depending on the cause. Chronic pelvic pain can often be resolved through treatment of the underlying cause. Definitive treatment may require surgery.