Pelvic pain is a generic term that refers to any pain that is felt in the pelvic area which is identified as the abdominal region below the bellybutton and between the two hipbones, and the pain is spread over the entire area rather than at a specific point. Pelvic pain is so common among women, that it is believed that just about every woman past puberty age would have had pelvic pain at some time in her life. Although it is much less frequent, men can also develop pelvic pain.
When pelvic pain lasts over three months, it is considered to be chronic pelvic pain (CPP) in women while in men, it is called chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) or chronic nonbacterial prostatitis.
The possible etiologies (causes) of pelvic pain and chronic pelvic pain are very many, but the most commonly reported causes are:
- Endometriosis is a condition in women, usually during their reproductive years, which is characterized by the endometrial cells which belong within the uterine cavity being deposited elsewhere. Endometriosis is most commonly seen in infertile women.
- Neurological hypersensitivity occurs during or after an infectious medical condition in the pelvic region and it can occur in men and in women.
- Visceral pain is a severe pain in the bladder or the bowels of men or women, or the uterus in women only.
- Ovarian cysts or uterine leiomyoma is a benign growth that occurs in women only.
- Ovarian torsion is a sudden and unexplained loss of blood circulation to the ovaries in women.
- Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix which is a small part of the small intestines and it can occur in men as well as in women.
- Pelvic girdle pain (PGD) is a disorder of any one or all three of the pelvic joints which is experienced by many pregnant women.
The symptoms of pelvic pain or chronic pelvic pain vary from one patient to another as does their severity. The most frequently reported among the symptoms are: pain which comes and goes but when it comes, its impossibly difficult to tolerate; the pain is accompanied by a sensation of heaviness deep inside the pelvis; and the pain is at its worst while the patient is in a sitting position as well as during bowl movements and sexual intercourse.
Pelvic pain and the more persistent chronic pelvic pain are extremely difficult to diagnose in both men and women. Considering that the pelvic area of the female anatomy is so much more complex, diagnosing women’s pelvic pain is that much more difficult. To make matter even more difficult for diagnosticians, pelvic pain can be a symptom of countless other medical dysfunctions or conditions and it can also be a stand-alone condition, in and of itself. Therefore, the focus in treating pelvic pain is either by treating the condition that brought it on, if a condition is indeed found, or by simply taking measures to relieve the pain itself.
When a condition causing the pelvic pain is found; it is treated with antibiotics if it is a bacterial infection, with hormone therapy if it is related to the woman’s menstrual cycles, with antidepressants, with muscle relaxants and with counseling. When no other medical conditions had been identified; pelvic pain is treated with pain relievers, with trigger point injections or with physical therapy. In the very extreme cases, pelvic pain is treated by ablation which is the severing of the targeted nerves or by corrective surgery.