Many women mistakenly believe they have to put up with chronic pelvic pain, it’s just a part of life as a woman. But chronic pelvic pain can be treated – and more importantly, not treating it can lead to worsening symptoms and may even reduce the chances of getting pregnant.

What is it?

Chronic pelvic pain affects one in 5 women and is the most common reason for women taking days off work. It’s defined as pain located in the lowest part of your tummy (below your belly button), usually in a broad area, not a single spot, lasting for more than six months.

It may be there all the time or comes and goes. The pain itself may be:

  • Dull aching
  • Sharp pains or cramping
  • Pressure or heaviness deep inside
  • Felt during intercourse or going to the toilet or sitting long hours.

Causes

Chronic pelvic pain has many possible causes, including:

  • Endometriosis: Lining of your womb (uterus) grows outside your uterus. Menstrual tissue and blood is unable to exit the body and remains in your pelvis.
  • Overactive pelvic floor muscles that cause spasms.
  • Small piece of ovary left inside after hysterectomy
  • Fibroids: Non-cancerous womb growths causing pressure, heaviness or (rarely) sharp pain.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: Pain and pressure, together with bloating, constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis): Chronic bladder inflammation, leading to a frequent need to urinate.
  • Psychological factors. Depression, chronic stress or sexual/physical abuse.
  • Asherman’s syndrome (AS): Womb scarring, such as due to recent pregnancy, curettage and inflammation (possibly due to infection).
  • Vulva (area just outside of the vagina) conditions.

When a cause cannot be found for your pain, treatment is aimed at helping you to manage and improve your quality of life.

See your GP to receive a diagnosis and treatment. For more information, visit www.jeanhailes.org.au

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