Chronic Pelvic Pain

What is chronic pelvic pain?

Chronic pelvic pain is a long-term condition affecting women. It is characterized by abdominal (belly) pain in the area below the belly button which has been present for at least 6 months. There are many possible causes for this condition. These causes are often difficult to treat, which leads many people with chronic pelvic pain to feel dissatisfied or frustrated.

Risks

The pelvis is the lowest part of the abdomen. The pelvis contains many organs and and has complex layers of muscles, nerves and blood vessels in and around the area. The reasons why some people develop chronic pain are not well understood. The pain can come from any of the organs, muscles or nerves that that are located in the pelvis. The pain can come from the digestive tract, the gynecological organs (uterus, ovaries, etc.), the bladder, or from the bones, muscles or nerves in and around the pelvis. This condition mostly occurs in women between the ages of 26 and 30 years. People who have been through traumatic or stressful circumstances are more likely to develop chronic pelvic pain.

Symptoms

The most typical symptom is pain in the area below the belly button over a period of at least 6 months. The specific characteristics and location of the pain can be different from person to person, and are helpful in identifying the cause of the pain.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually made by an experienced doctor or gynecologist based on the symptoms and a thorough examination of the pelvic area, including a gynecological exam. It can be difficult to diagnose the exact source of the pain, and it is often necessary to undergo some tests to find the cause, which may involve blood tests, smear samples from the vagina and cervix, and scans (ultrasound or CT scans).

Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and consists mostly of managing the symptoms. People with gynecological or muscular causes for their pain sometimes find simple pain-relieving medications, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, helpful. Physiotherapy can also be helpful. Regular exercise and maintaining good bowel function can be helpful for some people. Support groups or counseling may also be helpful in processing the diagnosis and finding strategies to manage the pain.