Chronic Female Pelvic Pain

Each year, millions of females complain of chronic pelvic pain. In fact, pelvic pain ranks high among the reasons for visiting a physician. There are two types of pelvic pain. Chronic pain consists of long-standing discomfort that persists for an extended period. Acute pain begins suddenly and occurs when there is no history of previous pelvic pain. Women experiencing ongoing pelvic pain for several years may shrug off symptoms or relieve discomfort with pain killers. However, chronic female pelvic pain is not normal. This sort of pain is caused by one of many underlying problems. These conditions could be minor, or severe. In order to rule out a more serious condition, chronic pelvic pain must be examined.

What is the Pelvis?

The pelvis is the bone located at the base of the spine. Symmetrical on both sides of the body, the pelvis consists of three bones which are commonly referred to as the hip bone. Both males and females have a pelvic bone; however, there are slight differences. The female pelvic bone tends to be wider than the males. The pelvis serves a valuable purpose. Its main function is to protect the reproductive and digestive system, as well as nerves and blood vessels.

When there are complications to the digestive or reproductive systems, this is indicated by a sharp or dull pain in the pelvic region. Several factors contribute to pelvic pain; however, the most common causes of chronic female pelvic pain include:

Endometriosis
Uterine Fibroids
Pregnancy- Related Problems
Ectopic Pregnancy
Ovarian Cyst
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Kidney Stones

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when uterine tissue begins to develop in other parts of the body. One common location for abnormal growth is the pelvic region. This disease primarily affects women of reproductive age. Although endometriosis is more common among women in their twenties and early thirties, this illness may affect girls as young as 12-years-old and pre-menopausal women. Endometriosis may lead to serious health concerns such as infertility. Symptoms of endometriosis may include painful or disabling menstrual cycles, painful intercourse, heavy menstrual cycles, painful bowel movements, and chronic pelvic pain.

What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign or non-cancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. Fibroids are extremely common. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 3 females will develop a fibroid tumor at some point during their life. In most cases, fibroids are very small and cause little or no symptoms. As the tumor enlarges a worsening of symptoms may occur. When this happens, a patient may have to undergo a surgical procedure intended to remove the tumor. Prior to surgery, doctors generally attempt to shrink the tumor. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include extreme pelvic pain or pressure, abnormal menstrual bleeding (heavier, shorter, longer cycles), urinary problems, and constipation.

What are Pregnancy-Related Problems?

Although pregnancies cause an array of non-alarming body changes and sicknesses, certain health conditions that arise must be taken seriously. Chronic pelvic pain during pregnancy warrants the attention of a physician. Sudden pain that occurs in the pelvic area may indicate a miscarriage or pre-term labor.

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Learning of an ectopic pregnancy is devastating for couples who are trying to plan a family. During normal conception, a fertilized egg will leave the fallopian tubes and travel to the uterus. After reaching the uterus, the egg will implant itself and begin to grow into a fetus. However, in approximately 2 percent of all pregnancies, the egg attaches itself in a location other than the uterus, perhaps the fallopian tube. This results in an ectopic pregnancy, or tubal pregnancy. Unfortunately, eggs that attach outside the uterus are unable to develop. Initially, ectopic pregnancies appear normal, and pregnancy tests offer a positive reading. However, as the pregnancy advances, symptoms such as severe abdominal and pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches, and shoulder pain will occur.

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs that develop on one or both ovaries. These cysts are very common among women in childbearing age. Most cyst are small, thus they cause no symptoms. However, if a larger cyst were to rupture, it could result in vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramps, and pelvic pain. Normal cysts are often detected during routine pelvic exams; and generally go away without medical treatment. Ruptured of bleeding cysts may require pain medication to help relieve severe pelvic discomfort. Ovarian cysts do not lead to more serious health conditions such as ovarian cancer. Common symptoms of an ovarian cyst include frequent urination, abdominal and pelvic pain, changes in menstrual cycle, and weight gain.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones occur when salt, minerals, and calcium bind together and build up inside of the bladder. Various factors contribute to kidney stones. The most common cause is dehydration. Additionally, those who consume little water and too many sodas, teas, and coffee drinks are placed at high risk for developing a kidney stone. Kidney stones are extremely painful, and the size of stones varies. Stones are passed through urine. Smaller stones may cause little discomfort. On the other hand, passing large or several kidney stones may require medical attention. Kidney stones that remain in the kidneys may cause long-standing pelvic pain, or no pain. However, stones that travel through the urinary tract will cause symptoms such as severe abdominal, back, and side pain. Some people may experience nausea or vomiting, blood in the urine, diarrhea, constipation, or fever.

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection or inflammation of the female reproductive system, is characterized by chronic pelvic pain. Inflammation may occur in several regions of the female body including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterine lining. Pelvic inflammatory disease is often caused by a sexually transmitted disease that infects the cervix. However, PID may also be caused by bacteria. The two most common causes of PID are gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Women who are prone to abdominal and pelvic pain may not suspect PID. Yet, pressure in these two regions is the main symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease. Other symptoms include low back pain, abnormal discharge, overall weakness, headaches, irregular menstrual periods, and urinary problems.

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