Pelvic Pain

Acute and chronic pelvic pain

Pelvic pain is usually either acute or chronic in nature.

Acute pelvic pain involves pain that starts up and lasts for a short time; usually from just a couple of minutes up to a couple of days. This kind of pelvic pain is usually a warning sign of something being wrong. Always have this kind of pain promptly evaluated by your specialist IPSA physician.

Chronic pelvic pain is either intermittent or constant. The intermittent and chronic type of pelvic pain usually has a very specific cause, whereas constant pelvic pain might be due to more than one problem.

Your IPSA pelvic pain consultation

During your IPSA pelvic pain consultation, your symptoms will be taken seriously and your specialist IPSA clinician will run through your medical history, symptoms, and carry out a physical examination in the privacy of IPSA’s confidential and client-centred conducive setting. Always visit to your IPSA physician when you experience either acute or chronic pelvic pain. As the causes of pelvic pain are wide-ranging, your IPSA physician may include diagnostic testing during your consultation.

Acute pelvic pain
Acute pelvic pain is caused either by inflammation or an infection. Infections do not have to affect your reproductive organs in order to cause such pelvic pain, as pain caused by your bladder or bowel, or by your appendix can also produce pelvic pain. Diverticulitis, kidney stones, bladder stones, irritable bowel syndrome, or muscle spasms/strains are just a few examples of non-reproductive causes for pelvic/lower abdominal pain.

There are other causes of acute pelvic pain, which also require prompt evaluation at your IPSA clinic, such as:

  • Vaginal infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Vaginitis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Appendicitis

Women with ovarian cysts might experience a sharp pain if one or more of their cysts leak fluid or if they bleed slightly, or they may have a sharper, more severe, continuous pain if a large cyst either ruptures or twists (which is often the most common gynaecologic reason for acute-onset pelvic pain). Fortunately, the majority of small cysts dissolve (without any form of medical intervention) after two to three menstrual cycles. The large cysts and cysts that do not dissolve on their own might require surgical removal.

Ectopic pregnancies start outside of the uterus, often in one of your fallopian tubes. The type of pain that is caused by such ectopic pregnancies often starts up on one side of your abdomen quite soon after missing your period, and might also involve spotting/vaginal bleeding.

Without seeking immediate medical treatment, an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening as your fallopian tubes might burst and lead to bleeding in your abdomen. Sometimes surgery is necessary and involves removing the fallopian tube that is affected.

Acute pelvic pain is sometimes a symptom of appendicitis.

Chronic pelvic pain

Chronic pelvic pain is either intermittent or constant. Intermittent chronic pelvic pain often has a specific cause, whereas constant pelvic pain might be due to more than one problem. One common example of this type of pelvic pain is menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Other causes include ovulation pain, endometriosis and adenomyosis. Occasionally an illness can start with intermittent pelvic pain and this then becomes constant after some time, which is often a sign of the problem worsening. A change in pain intensity in the pelvic region can also be because your ability to cope with the pain lessens, causing any pain you feel to be experienced as more severe, even though the underlying reason for your pain has not worsened.

Women who have had serious illnesses such as endometriosis, PID, severe infections or surgery sometimes have chronic pelvic pain due to adhesions or scar tissue that has formed during the process of healing. Adhesions can cause organ surfaces to bind to structures inside your abdomen.

Fibroid tumours (non-cancerous and benign growths from the uterus muscle) often present with no symptoms, but when they do appear, the symptoms can include pelvic pain/pressure and menstrual abnormalities.

Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic pain at your IPSA clinic

Due to the many possible causes for pelvic pain, your diagnosis will begin through a process of elimination. Your IPSA physician might order several kinds of tests in order to properly diagnose your problem. This might seem tedious and rather time-consuming but is the best approach for your IPSA clinician to determine the issue/s causing your pelvic pain. Some of the possible tests that your IPSA physician might carry out or order include:

  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • A colonoscopy
  • A barium enema

These particular tests are not able to detect adhesions or endometriosis and so a laparoscopy might be necessary in order for your IPSA clinician to correctly diagnose what is causing your pelvic pain.

The kind of treatment that your IPSA doctor will provide for you depends on your diagnosis. The treatments vary, ranging from medications for vaginal or urinary tract infections (UTIs) to pharmacologic treatments for more serious infections (for example, PID). If you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease then your partner also needs treatment to prevent any reinfection.

As your IPSA physician works with you to determine the exact cause of your pelvic pain, it can be frustrating, but try to remain positive. Even if a specific reason cannot be found for your chronic pelvic pain, your IPSA clinician has treatments available that will help. At your IPSA clinic, our client-centred approach and open working relationship with our clients enables us to find the treatment that will work best for your pain.

To book your same-day pelvic pain consultation, phone your IPSA clinic or make your booking online.

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