Pelvic pain, whether acute or chronic, can potentially interrupt work, your daily activities, sleep, or your relationships with other people. It may also be mentally and physically distressing. Pelvic pain may be cause by a wide variety of diseases, but in some cases, a certain cause cannot be pinpointed. Pelvic pain is usually healed by treating the cause itself, but for those with an unknown cause, symptomatic care is often the only thing that can be done. A Houston Gynecologist can help diagnose and treat the pelvic pain as this is a very common reason to visit the doctor.
Pelvic Pain: Acute VS Chronic
There are two types of pelvic pain: acute and chronic. When the pain lasts only for a short time, it is said to be acute. Sometimes this is caused by some type of medical emergency, including severe infections, ectopic pregnancy, or twisted or ruptured ovarian cyst.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, may last for up to 6 months or even longer. The pain may come and go; it doesn’t have to be constantly experienced for it to be classified as chronic pain. In some cases, chronic pain follows a certain pattern like only during menstruation. It can also be felt at certain times of the day corresponding to a specific activity, such as upon urinating, prior to or after meals, or there can be pain with sexual intercourse.
There are a wide variety of conditions that can cause pelvic pain. They may be related to the reproductive tract itself, or to neighboring organ systems such as the urinary tract or digestive tract. Mostly, pelvic pain can be pinpointed to one specific cause, but in some instances, pelvic pain can be attributed to a combination of causes. Sometimes, no cause is found, but it doesn’t mean that the pain experience with the woman is only imagined.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is defined as an infection of the reproductive tract. This is usually caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Bacteria usually migrate up from the vagina and cervix into the more internal structures, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and even the ovaries. PID can cause infertility, if not treated.
Dysmenorrhea is defined as severe pain that occurs with menstrual periods, usually lasting 1 or 2 days. High levels of prostaglandins lead to dysmenorrhea by causing the uterus to strongly contract, resulting in severe pain. These prostaglandins are produced by the cells lining the uterus.
Endometriosis is a condition wherein uterine tissue is found in other parts of the body, including the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, and even the bowel or bladder. Like uterine tissues, these respond to reproductive hormones. During menstruation, this misplaced tissue also sheds and bleeds, much like the real uterine lining. This repeated breakdown and bleeding may cause adhesions in the long run, and adhesions may cause pain.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterine muscle. These can be found on the interior of the uterus, within its wall, or outside the uterus attached by a stalk. These stalks may become twisted and may cause severe pain.
Urinary Tract Problems
This encompasses a wide range of urinary conditions such as kidney stones, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), interstitial cystitis, and even bladder cancer.
Digestive System Problems
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause chronic pelvic pain. This is a condition that is associated with diarrhea or constipation. Other problems with the digestive tract can also cause pelvic pain, such as diverticulitis and colon cancer.
Because of the wide variety of causes, pelvic pain is hard to diagnose. Your Houston Gynecologist will interview you first so they can narrow down the possible causes for your pelvic pain, and then she will recommend the diagnostic exams based on your history.
As mentioned before, treating pelvic pain means treating the condition causing the pain. If, however, no cause is pinpointed, treatment is aimed at providing pain relief. Described below are some methods that can help with chronic pelvic pain.
Medications that can help with pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If the pain persists or is extremely severe, your doctor can prescribe you some stronger pain relief drugs, but you must be careful in using these medications because they can cause you to feel drowsy. Practicing good posture helps relieve pelvic pain. Exercising regularly can also reduce pain. Unconventional therapies may also help with chronic pain, including acupressure and acupuncture. You can also choose to undergo physical therapy that helps you mentally cope with the pain. For nutritional therapy, vitamin B1 and magnesium have been found to relieve pain associated with dysmenorrhea.
Pelvic pain can be attributed to a wide variety of causes, so it is imperative to discover what causes your pelvic pain in order for it to be treated effectively.