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Persistent Pelvic Pain: When to seek treatment

November 14, 2018

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 is normal, and isn’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 intermittent sharp pain or other symptoms, including abnormal bleeding, lower back pain, and discharge. Pelvic pain could be a result of 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 Beverly Alten, MD, OB-GYN with First Choice Women’s Health, “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. As Dr. Alten advises, some of the diseases causing pelvic pain will require surgical intervention or treatment that can only be provided by a physician.

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 a series of questions about your full medical history, and it’s important to be honest and specific in order 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 who has persistent pelvic pain that continues for more than one to two menstrual cycles should seek treatment from a doctor.

Click here to find a Kettering Health Network OB-GYN to discuss symptoms and treatment options for persistent pelvic pain.