Are you feeling pain below your belly button? Discomfort and pain affecting the lower abdominal region is called pelvic pain. Pain in the pelvic area can occur as a dull or sharp feeling and can come on suddenly, creating intense discomfort. Doctors refer to this occurrence as acute pain, while persistent pain is chronic and can last for weeks or months. But when should you be worried about pelvic pain?
When Should I Be Worried about Pelvic Pain?
What are the Symptoms of Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is common in women and usually results from their reproductive system or cycle. There are several causes of acute or chronic pelvic pain. The disorder can be constant or intermittent, confined to one area of the pelvis or the entire lower abdominal area.
Chronic pelvic pain usually lasts for six months or more and can come and go. Whether chronic or acute, pelvic pain should be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Some of the common symptoms associated with pelvic pain include the following.
- A gradually increasing pain that doesn't subside.
- A sharp, sudden stabbing pain or burning sensation.
- A cramping pain or a sense of throbbing which fluctuates.
- A dull ache.
- Feelings of pressure, knotting, or twisting.
- Pain when exercising, urinating, or during intercourse.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, we suggest that you schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional for further evaluation.
What are the Causes of Chronic Pelvic Pain?
There are several causes of acute or chronic pelvic pain. Typically, it's due to complications relating to the reproductive system. Some of the common causes of the issue include the following.
- Menstruation and ovulation
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – PID is usually due to the contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea or chlamydia. If left untreated, it can result in complications like infertility. PID requires immediate diagnosis and treatment.
- Endometriosis – A chronic, dangerous condition. The uterine lining starts to grow along the walls of the fallopian tubes. This disorder also requires immediate diagnosis and treatment.
- Fibroids – Non-cancerous growths of muscle and fibrous tissues growing around or in the uterus.
- Ovarian cysts – Sacs of fluid developing on the ovaries.
- Pelvic pain during pregnancy.
In some rare cases, chronic or acute pelvic pain may indicate the presence of severe diseases, such as ovarian or uterine cancer or ectopic pregnancy, which may be life-threatening.
When to be Worried about Pelvic Pain
So, when is pelvic pain a reason to book an appointment with your doctor? If you experience any of the following issues, call your physician to diagnose and treat your condition.
- If you experience persistent pelvic pain for longer than 48 hours.
- The intensity of menstrual cramping increases during your cycle.
- You have bloating lasting for several weeks.
- If you experience unexplained, persistent weight loss.
- You experience persistent constipation or diarrhea.
- You endure pain with penetrative sex.
- You find blood in your stool or urine.
- You experience irregular vaginal discharge or bleeding.
Book an appointment immediately if your pelvic pain intensifies and worsens. Seek immediate assistance if your pelvic region is painful to touch or press on. Other signs of severe pelvic distress include the following.
- It hurts when you urinate.
- You're urinating more frequently than normal.
- If you're pregnant or suspect you're pregnant.
- If you have a fever accompanying pain symptoms.
How to Treat Chronic Pelvic Pain
Call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you experience chronic or severe pelvic pain. They'll ask you about the nature and frequency of your pain symptoms and whether it spreads throughout the pelvis or is localized to a specific lower abdominal area.
The cause of pelvic pain determines the course of treatment. For instance, if you're experiencing symptoms of PID, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.
If the doctor diagnoses endometriosis, they'll prescribe hormone therapy and painkillers. In some cases, they'll recommend laparoscopy surgery.
Surgery may be necessary to resolve issues involving ectopic pregnancy.
Ovarian cysts require transvaginal ultrasound for confirmation of diagnosis, and medication or surgery, depending on the size of the cyst(s).
Treatment isn't necessary in many cases of acute pelvic pain, and the pain symptoms pass. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or over-the-counter painkillers to manage the condition. Never self-diagnose the problem. Always seek medical advice before taking action to treat the issue.
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