Diagnosing Pelvic Pain
The first step to diagnosing your pelvic pain is to undergo a pelvic exam. Your doctor may also recommend laboratory tests and imaging studies. Depending on the nature of your problem and its possible causes, your doctor may also consult with or refer you to others for care.
Your doctor will also ask you detailed questions about your health history and may ask you to keep a Pain Journal. In your Pain Journal, you record when you feel pain, how the pain feels, and how long the pain lasts. Although keeping a Pain Journal may seem complex and time consuming, it really is the best way to help your doctor determine what is causing your pelvic pain.
Your Pain Journal
• When do you feel pain?
• Time of day
• Certain times of your menstrual cycle
• Before, during, or after certain activities
• Describe the pain and note how long it lasts.
• Is it sharp or a dull ache?
• Does it come in waves or is it steady?
• How intense is it?
• Does it always occur in the same place?
• What makes it better or worse?
Treating Pelvic Pain
Once the cause of your pelvic pain is determined, your doctor will design a treatment plan to either manage the pain or alleviate the cause of the pain. Possible treatments include:
• Prescribed or over-the-counter medications
• Heat therapy and muscle relaxants
• Physical therapy
• Nutrition therapy
• Biofeedback Acupuncture.
Acute Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain can be either acute or chronic, depending on the cause. Acute (or sharp) pain starts suddenly and often has a single cause. This type of pain may be a warning that something is wrong. Some causes of acute pelvic pain include:
• An infection of your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries; this condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
• An infection of the urethra, bladder, or kidneys.
• Ovarian cysts; may go away on their own or may need to be surgically removed.
• Ectopic pregnancy; a serious condition where a pregnancy grows outside the uterus, often on the fallopian tubes.
You should call your doctor whenever you feel acute pelvic pain. Treatment may as simple as taking antibiotics. Or, in some cases, surgery may be required. Only your doctor can determine the cause of the pain and the course of action to resolve it.
With all pelvic pain, it is important to carefully track your symptoms and talk openly with your doctor.
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain is pain that occurs over a long period of time. It can either come and go or be constant. Chronic pain that comes and goes often has a distinct cause. Constant chronic pain may be caused by more than one problem in more than one area of the body. In all cases, careful tracking of your symptoms and openly talking with your doctor will help uncover the cause of your pelvic pain.
When you feel pain while having sexual intercourse, it is called dyspareunia. Painful sex is fairly common; nearly two out of three women have it at some point in their lives. The pain can range from mild to severe. You can feel pain in the vaginal region or deep inside your body.
Painful sex can have both physical and emotional causes. Different types of pain can have different causes. It's important to find the cause of your pain because you may have problems that need medication, surgery, or counseling. The doctors at Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn will work with you to understand your pain and develop a treatment plan that allows you to enjoy your sex life.
Although mild pain is common during your menstrual period, some women have pain severe enough to keep them from their normal activities. This type of menstrual pain is called dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is pelvic pain that is the result of having your period. It begins soon after you start menstruating. Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that has another cause in addition to menstruation. Pain often begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and usually lasts longer than normal cramps. Some common causes of secondary dysmenorrhea are endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
There are effective ways to treat dysmenorrhea. Your doctor can prescribe or suggest medications that can help relieve your discomfort.
Finding Relief From Painful Periods:
• Apply heat to your abdomen.
• Get plenty of sleep before and during your period.
• Exercise regularly.
• Perform relaxation exercises.
• Have sex: orgasms can relieve cramps in some women.
If menstrual cramps get worse over time or remain strong beyond the first one or two days, they may be caused by endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the tissue lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus, most often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures. This condition can cause pain before and during the menstrual cycle and, if severe, can lead to infertility.
The treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of your condition, your symptoms, and whether or not you want to have children. Your doctor can determine whether medication, surgery, or both are needed.
Adenomyosis occurs when the lining of the uterus extends into the muscle wall of the uterus. It can cause painful menstrual cramps, pressure and bloating in the lower abdomen before menstrual periods, and more bleeding during periods. Your doctor can help you control your symptoms with medication and surgery in some cases.
Because pelvic pain has a number of causes, finding the source can be a long and complex process. Even when there is no specific cause found, there are treatments that can help.
Mittelschmerz or Ovulation Pain
Pain that is felt around the time you ovulate is sometimes called mittelschmerz (German for "middle pain"). This pain can range from a mild pinch or twinge to something more severe. In some women, it occurs every month and in others, it occurs only once in a while. Over-the-counter medications can usually help relieve your ovulation pain.