What is Chronic Pelvic Pain and How is it Treated?
Chronic pelvic pain is one of the many pelvic floor disorders that women suffer from. Basically, it’s pain that lasts longer than six months. The pain is below the belly button and it can be internal or external. The pain can be variable, meaning it can be burning, it can be sharp, it can be crampy. Because of all these different characteristics it can be difficult to diagnose but it CAN be diagnosed and be treated effectively.
What are the Causes of Chronic Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain can be caused by pain in any of the organs tissues or structures under the belly button. That would include structures like the uterus, the bladder, the small bowel, the rectum and the vagina. Some of the common diagnoses for chronic pelvic pain include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, intersitical cystitis, pelvic floor trauma from childbirth and vaginal dryness from aging.
What Does Chronic Pelvic Pain Feel Like?
Chronic pelvic pain can feel differently to everybody. The pain can be mild, it can be severe, even debilitating. The pain can have characteristics of being sharp, burning, cramping or it can even be a dull ache. The pain can happen anytime—just sitting down or when walking around. It can happen during intercourse or can happen during bowel movements or urination.
How is Chronic Pelvic Pain Diagnosed?
To diagnose chronic pelvic pain, we always begin with a complete history and a complete pelvic exam. Following that, it could lead to imaging studies, muscle tests, nerve tests, and of course blood and urine tests.
Your Pain Can Be Treated
Chronic pelvic pain can be treated in a variety of ways. There are conservative treatments and then there are aggressive treatments. Some of the more conservative treatments include behavioral modification and physical therapy. You can move more aggressively with pharmacological agents, topical, injectable and oral agents. Typically the most aggressive treatments involve surgery.
The good news is women don’t have to suffer from chronic pelvic pain. There are a variety of treatment options available and your provider is here to help.
Michael Feloney, M.D. was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a Staff Physician at UNMC Physicians. Dr. Feloney is Board Certified in Urology, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and Laparoscopic Surgery.