When Should You See a Doctor About Pelvic Pain?

It’s hard to know how many women suffer from pelvic pain that isn’t related to their menstrual periods, but studies suggest that 15% of women in the US have reported pelvic pain that lasted at least six months. No woman should ever live with pelvic pain for that long, yet at Gynecologic Surgery and Menopause Solutions, we also understand that it can be hard to know when to see a doctor for your pain. That’s why we’re offering a few guidelines. 

Pelvic pain has many causes.

Pelvic pain is confusing because there are so many possible causes and, to make it more difficult, some women have more than one condition contributing to their pelvic pain. How many possible causes are we talking about? 

This isn’t an exact number, but there are at least 10 gynecologic and 12 non-gynecologic health conditions that include pelvic pain as a symptom. Non-gynecologic sources of pelvic pain may arise from problems in your pelvic muscles and nerves, as well as your digestive tract and urinary system.

Most of the underlying gynecologic conditions cause other symptoms in addition to your pelvic pain. Identifying those symptoms may help you know when your pelvic pain is more than a temporary problem. 

The top gynecologic causes of pelvic pain include: 

Endometriosis

When you have endometriosis, the tissue that lines your uterus also grows outside the uterus. Inside your uterus, these tissues thicken during each monthly cycle, then shed as your menstrual period if you don’t get pregnant. 

Outside your uterus, the tissues continue to follow the same monthly pattern. But when they’re shed, the blood stays in your pelvic area, causing inflammation and scarring. As a result, you end up with pelvic pain.

In addition to pelvic pain, endometriosis often causes painful periods, pain during intercourse, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can develop inside the uterine wall and on the uterine lining. Sometimes the growths appear outside the uterus, where they’re attached to the outer wall.

Fibroids vary in size, they can grow slowly or rapidly, and you may have one or many fibroids at the same time. When they cause symptoms, you may only have pelvic pain, but fibroids also cause heavy menstrual periods, long periods, the frequent need to urinate, and difficulty emptying your bladder.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is different because it’s an infection that occurs when bacteria are sexually transmitted and then manage to get into your uterus, Fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID usually causes other symptoms, including heavy bleeding, menstrual periods that last longer than a week, frequent urination, and difficulty emptying your bladder.

Adenomyosis

This condition occurs when tissue from the lining of your uterus grows into the muscular uterine wall. As the tissue thickens and sheds during your monthly cycle, it leads to an enlarged and painful uterus. You’ll experience pelvic pain with menstrual cramping and often, heavy bleeding.

When to see the doctor for pelvic pain

We encourage women to call us any time they have pelvic pain that lasts longer than a few weeks. We can protect your health by ruling out any underlying conditions, and we’ll offer treatment to help relieve your pain. Here are a few guidelines:

Sudden, severe pelvic pain requires quick attention

Any time you develop sudden, severe pelvic or abdominal pain, you should give us a call. If your pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, sweating, or chills, you can call us for a quick evaluation of your symptoms, but in many cases, these are signs of a serious abdominal infection, inflammation, or obstruction that requires immediate treatment in your local emergency room. 

Pelvic pain plus bleeding after menopause is a red flag

Bleeding after menopause is a potential sign of endometrial cancer. Don’t panic — there are other causes of postmenopausal bleeding — but don’t wait to schedule an appointment for a complete pelvic exam. 

General guidelines for when to schedule an appointment 

You should consider making an appointment at Gynecologic Surgery and Menopause Solutions any time you have chronic pelvic pain or when:

If you have any doubts, just call Gynecologic Surgery and Menopause Solutions. We’ll talk with you about your symptoms, help you decide if you should make an appointment, and how quickly you need to come in.

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