PELVIC PAIN – PART 3:
Conditions that only affect women
Pelvic pain arising from the female reproductive system might be caused by conditions such as:
- Mittelschmerz (Painful Ovulation) is pain in the lower belly and pelvis that some women get when they ovulate. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the fallopian tube that occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle. The pain you feel from mittelschmerz is on the side of your abdomen where the egg is released. Mittelschmerz is not serious.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual cramps: Most women get cramps in their lower abdomen just before and during their monthly menstrual period. The discomfort comes from hormone changes, and from the uterus contracting as it pushes out the uterine lining. Painful periods are called dysmenorrhea. 10 % of women have pain severe enough to disrupt their daily life. A heating pad, over-the-counter pain relievers, exercise and de-stressing can help.
- Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus — usually in the fallopian tubes. As the egg grows, it can cause the fallopian tube to burst, which can be life threatening and a medical emergency. Pain from an ectopic pregnancy comes on quickly and can feel sharp or stabbing.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in a woman’s reproductive tract. It starts when bacteria get into the vagina and travel to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other reproductive organs. PID is usually caused by an STI. The pain from PID is centered in the lower belly. It can feel tender or achy. If left untreated, PID can lead to infertility.
- Ovarian cyst rupture or torsion: Ovaries release eggs when you ovulate. Sometimes a follicle does not open to release the egg. Or it recloses after it does and swells with fluid. This causes an ovarian cyst. They are usually harmless and go away on their own. But they may cause pelvic pain, pressure, swelling, and bloating. However, if a cyst twists or breaks open (ruptures), it can cause pain in your lower belly on the same side as the cyst. The pain can be sharp or dull, and it may come and go.
- Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are growths in the wall of the uterus and are common during a woman’s reproductive years. It is usually not cancerous. Fibroids can range in size from tiny seeds to large lumps that make your belly grow. Larger fibroids may cause pressure or pain in the pelvis. Fibroids are common in women in their 30s and 40s.
- Endometriosis is when tissue that normally lines your uterus grows in other parts of your pelvis. When it is time for your period, the tissue thickens and break down. But the tissue has no way to leave the body. It can cause pain and form scar tissue that may make it tough to get pregnant.
11 % of women between the ages of 15 and 44 develop endometriosis.
Endometriosis causes pelvic pain before and during your period. The pain can be severe.
- Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS): Varicose veins develop around your ovaries. The valves that normally keep blood flowing in the right direction through the veins no longer work. This causes blood to back up in your veins, which swell up. This condition is much more common in women. Pelvic pain is the main symptom. The pain can feel dull or achy. It will often get worse during the day, especially if you have been sitting or standing a lot.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The female pelvic organs stay in place thanks to a hammock of muscles and other tissues that support them. Due to childbirth and age, these muscles can weaken and allow the bladder, uterus, and rectum to fall down into the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse can affect women of any age, but it’s most common in older women. This condition can cause a feeling of pressure or heaviness in your pelvis. You might also feel a lump protruding from your vagina. Special exercises or surgery may help.
- Vulvodynia it hurts when you ride a bike or have sex. It burns, stings, or throbs around the opening of your vagina and the feelings can be ongoing or come and go. Treatment options range from medication to physical therapy