If you have chronic pelvic pain, you’re not alone. About 15% of American women and 32% of women worldwide have chronic pelvic pain, defined by the American College Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) as pain that lasts for six months or longer.
While pelvic pain can happen at nearly any age, it’s more common during the childbearing years, possibly due to fluctuations in estrogen levels during those years. Even though it’s common, pelvic pain isn’t normal, and delaying treatment can have serious consequences for your health.
At Health Solutions, with four different locations in Tinley Park, Rockford, and Olympia Fields, Illinois, as well as Munster, Indiana, our team uses advanced diagnostic methods to determine the cause of pelvic pain, providing patient-centered treatment solutions aimed at providing relief and improving overall health and wellness.
Causes of pelvic pain
The pelvic region (lower belly) contains a lot of organs and other components, like blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. Pelvic pain can involve any of these components — or even several at once.
While some pelvic pain can be associated with your digestive or urinary system, chronic pain often stems from a gynecologic problem affecting your reproductive organs. These are some of the most common causes of gynecologic pelvic pain:
Endometriosis happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Sometimes, it grows on the wall of the intestine or bladder, on the ovaries, or even in the chest cavity.
Similar to endometriosis, adenomyosis occurs when the endometrium grows into the wall of the uterus.
Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tissue growths that form in your uterus during your childbearing years. If they grow very large, they can interfere with your ability to get pregnant.
These fluid-filled sacs form inside an ovary or on its surface. Typically, they go away on their own in a few months. Sometimes, though, they grow large enough to cause serious problems.
Vulvodynia causes pain, itching, burning, or aching around the vaginal opening. Researchers don’t know what causes vulvodynia, but there are treatments that can help.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID happens when your reproductive organs become infected, often as the result of an untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD).
The first step in treating pelvic pain is determining the cause. Our team performs a comprehensive exam, along with diagnostic imaging and lab tests, to make sure your treatment is targeted to the underlying cause of pain.
The importance of prompt medical treatment
Pelvic pain can take a toll on your quality of life, especially when it’s chronic or recurrent. Relieving painful symptoms is probably the most obvious reason to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Our team will work with you to design a treatment plan based on your symptoms and other factors to help you feel better.
The second really important reason to seek medical treatment has to do with the underlying causes of pelvic pain. While some causes may be relatively benign, many causes of chronic pelvic pain are serious health problems that will only get worse the longer they’re ignored.
Some causes, like uterine cancer or ovarian cancer, can be life-threatening. Others can cause infertility or cause problems in your relationship. Having prompt treatment is important for your comfort, your physical health, and your emotional health, too.
Don’t ignore your pelvic pain
Chronic pelvic pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s not normal — and it’s a clear sign that it’s time to seek a doctor’s care. To find relief for your pelvic pain, schedule online or by phone at any of our four locations.