As a woman, you already understand that mild-to-moderate cramps and aches are a normal part of your menstrual cycle. But for about one third of women, chronic pelvic pain that lasts longer than six months becomes an ongoing problem, negatively affecting your quality of life.
Ongoing or severe pelvic pain isn’t normal. And because many underlying conditions could be the cause, it’s important to see an experienced OB/GYN provider who listens to your symptoms and works to ease your pain and treat the cause.
At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, our team offers comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic care for women struggling with pelvic pain. To help you better understand your condition, here’s a look at five common causes of chronic pelvic pain.
A condition called endometriosis serves as one of the most common causes of chronic pelvic pain. As part of your reproductive cycle, your endometrium (the lining of your uterus), prepares for possible pregnancy, thickening and growing. When you don’t conceive, your body sheds this tissue through your period.
For women with endometriosis, however, the endometrium grows in places outside the uterus, but it’s still tied into your reproductive cycle, so it tries to shed when you get your period. Since it can’t exit your body, it continues to build up, forming scar tissue over time.
At first, you might only have more severe cramps and pain during your period. But the disease is progressive, and as time passes, women with endometriosis experience pelvic pain at all points in their cycle.
Another common cause of chronic pelvic pain is benign growths called fibroids. These masses of muscular tissue form in the lining of your uterus. They vary in size from tiny to as big as a grapefruit.
While these tumors aren’t cancerous, that doesn’t mean they’re problem-free. Some women don’t have any symptoms with fibroids. But depending on the size and position of your fibroids, many women develop pelvic pain and pressure. They can also trigger heavier periods, a protruding abdomen, and urinary incontinence.
3. Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), usually caused by an STD (sexually transmitted disease), is another cause of chronic pelvic pain. PID is an infection that causes scarring on your pelvic organs.
Besides ongoing pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to abnormal bleeding and spotting, unusual vaginal discharge, pain during sex, and a fever. When caught early, PID can usually be treated with antibiotics.
4. Menstrual cramps
Most women experience menstrual cramps from time to time, and they can happen before and during your period. This is because your uterus contracts to shed its lining during your period, and these contractions can be painful.
For some women, though, menstrual cramps can be quite severe and even interfere with your daily activities. If you’re experiencing especially strong cramps, you may feel the pain in your abdomen, or you may experience pain that travels down your legs or into your back.
Sometimes pelvic pain originates in your vulva. When this happens, the cause could be a condition called vulvodynia.
Unfortunately, this chronic condition often doesn’t have a known cause, making it challenging to treat. Vulvodynia frequently makes sexual intercourse painful, and the chronic pain it causes interferes with your quality of life.
Treating chronic pelvic pain
Before creating an effective treatment plan, your Darin Swainston MD. FACOG provider first identifies the underlying cause of your pelvic pain. This is important, since not all cases of pelvic pain have the same cause.
With the underlying cause of your pain in hand, your provider designs a customized treatment, taking into consideration your medical history, lifestyle, symptoms, and your body’s needs. To provide relief from your pain and prevent it from coming back, we may recommend one or a combination of treatments, including:
- Medication and/or supplements
- Lifestyle changes
- Physical therapy
- Surgical intervention
If your Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG provider believes the best way to treat your pelvic pain is through surgery, know our team uses the latest robotic-assisted surgical techniques to minimize your discomfort, accelerate your healing, and give you the best outcome possible.
For help diagnosing and treating chronic pelvic pain, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada.