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Pelvic pain can be caused by a variety of conditions and can include aching, cramping, or rectal pressure. Though pelvic pain can be frustrating and disruptive to normal life, your doctor can help with a diagnosis and treatment plan to get you back to feeling your best.
What is normal?
Pelvic pain and cramping during your period are normal and aren’t usually cause for concern unless it’s severe or interfering with your life. Women typically describe pelvic pain as a dull ache or pressure that may or may not be accompanied by an intermittent sharp pain or other symptoms, including abnormal bleeding, lower back pain, and discharge. Pelvic pain could result from a problem with your reproductive organs, but it also can be a gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, or urinary tract problem.
Diagnosing pelvic pain
“Reasons for pelvic pain vary by patient,” says Dr. Beverly Alten, an OB-GYN. “but are commonly related to endometriosis, ovarian cysts, adhesions, bowel issues, or bladder issues.” Though some reasons for pelvic pain are more serious than others, you should always see a doctor for persistent pelvic pain that you don’t know the cause of. Some diseases causing pelvic pain require surgical intervention or treatment that a physician can only provide.
To help your doctor as much as possible with diagnosis, it can be helpful to keep a journal of your pain, noting when it comes on, any factors that might affect the pain, and what helps relieve the pain. Your doctor will also ask you questions about your full medical history, and it’s important to be honest, and specific to receive a proper diagnosis.
When should I see a doctor?
For less severe pelvic pain, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs may be adequate treatment. In other cases, Dr. Alten explains, “treatment options can include hormonal suppression such as with oral contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), or a surgical evaluation.” Dr. Alten recommends that anyone with persistent pelvic pain that continues for more than one to two menstrual cycles should seek treatment from a doctor.
Find an OB-GYN to discuss symptoms and treatment options for persistent pelvic pain.
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