You are not alone. Suffering from pelvic pain is more common than most believe, or want to admit. Nearly 25% of reproductive-aged women are affected by chronic pelvic pain. A woman's pelvic pain can come in short attacks, which may or may not be related to their menstrual cycles. However, for a percentage of women, the pain can affect daily function and activity— even debilitate life.
Chronic pelvic pain can be diagnosed when the condition persists for more than 6 months, and is associated with harmful mental, behavioral, sexual and emotional consequences. The symptoms a woman can experience may be related to bladder, bowel, pelvic muscles, and/or gynecological dysfunction. But what could be the root cause of their pelvic pain?
A patient evaluation would establish the history of the woman's pain. During this evaluation, listening to the patient and understanding their pain is the utmost importance. This will guide the physician to the patient’s diagnosis, and the best solution for treatment. The most common gynecological diagnosis is Endometriosis, which is linked to nearly 33% of chronic pelvic pain. Non-gynecological causes, include, but are not limited to, irritable bowel syndrome, musculoskeletal causes (tenderness will be reproduced on physical exam) and depression.
While the initial evaluation may start with seeing one specialist, a multi-team approach may be the best solution for treating pelvic pain in women. Medical and surgical options are available, depending on the cause, but treatment may also improve by seeing a therapist (physical or behavioral), as well a psychiatrist. If you or a loved one is suffering is suffering from pelvic pain and feel unheard, please reach out and seek help.
Dr. Michael Balat is a practicing OB/GYN at Plaza OB/GYN in Houston, Texas. You can learn more about Dr. Balat and Plaza OB/GYN at https://plazaobg.com/.