Every woman experiences pelvic pain differently. Many patients don’t fully communicate their pain with their doctor because they believe it’s normal. While occasional discomfort and pain is nothing to be worried about, debilitating or chronic pain are far from normal.
As the Medical Director of McCarus Surgical Specialists for Women in Celebration and Winter Park, I’ve successfully diagnosed and treated women of every age who are experiencing pelvic pain. The pain may be sharp or crampy (similar to menstrual cramps) and may come and go, or it can be sudden and excruciating, dull and constant, or some combination. The pain may steadily increase in intensity, sometimes occurring in short spurts. Most of the time, pelvic pain occurs in unison with the menstrual cycle or during ovulation when the egg is released.
However, consistent, frequent pain lasting for longer than three months could indicate something more serious. Chronic pelvic pain may have no clear cause or it may be due to an underlying medical condition such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – This disturbance in the function of the gastrointestinal tract can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and watery or frequent bowel movements. Though it can be painful and inconvenient, IBS isn’t considered life threatening and can usually be treated through medication and lifestyle adjustments.
- Interstitial cystitis – Also known as painful bladder syndrome, this chronic condition causes bladder pain, frequent urination and pain after intercourse. It can usually be addressed through dietary changes, medication and other therapies.
- Endometriosis – A condition where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus instead grows outside of the uterus. Symptoms include heavy periods with severe pain, and possible infertility.
- Fibroid tumors – Fibroids in the uterus or on the ovaries are normal, especially during childbearing years. These growths are noncancerous and often have little to no symptoms. However, as fibroids grow, they cause heavy and prolonged periods, low back pain, pelvic pain and frequent urination.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease – This condition is usually caused by untreated sexually transmitted diseases or other infections. Symptoms may include pelvic pain, unusual vaginal discharge and a fever.
Pelvic pain can be successfully diagnosed through a variety of tests, including a physical exam, medical history evaluation, blood and urine test, pelvic ultrasound or MRI, pelvic laparoscopy, cystoscopy and colonoscopy. Once diagnosed, your doctor will create a plan of care to reduce your pain and prevent further complications. Common treatments include over-the-counter pain relievers, hormone therapy, physical therapy, injection therapy, psychological counseling and surgery.
Many safe, effective surgical procedures are available should you and your doctor decide that surgery is the best treatment. A few common procedures include traditional surgery, robotic-assisted laparoscopy and other minimally invasive options.
If you are experiencing pelvic pain or have questions about your health options, give McCarus Surgical Specialists a call at (407) 303-4190 or visit McCarusGyn.com. For a full list of treatments or to schedule an appointment, visit FHMedicalGroup.com.
Steven D. McCarus, MD, FACOG, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and is nationally known as a leader in the practice of minimally invasive surgery. He is the Chief of Gynecological Surgery for Florida Hospital Celebration Health and an integral part of the Winter Park Memorial Hospital Women’s Health Specialties. He is committed to providing the most advanced and least invasive pelvic and gynecologic treatments.