A Gynecologist's Second Opinion:
The Questions & Answers You Need to Take Charge of Your Health
(Second Edition, Revised)
by William H. Parker
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  Researchers estimate that
12 percent to 20 percent of women have chronic pelvic pain.
     

What is CHRONIC PELVIC PAIN ?

Chronic pelvic pain refers to the pain in the pelvic region for women; this is the area below your belly button and between your hips and pain usually lasts six months or longer. If you are asked to locate the pain, rather than pointing to a single spot, you might sweep your hand over that entire area.. Chronic pelvic pain could be a symptom of another disease, or it can be designated as a condition in its own right.

The cause of chronic pelvic pain is often hard to find. If the source of your chronic pelvic pain is found, treatment is focused on that cause. Pain management is the usual treatment option if no cause can be found.

WHAT CAN CAUSE CHRONIC PELVIC PAIN?

Several gynecologic problems may be the source of chronic pelvic pain. However, other diseases can cause pelvic pain, such as irritable bowel syndrome and interstitial cystitis. In addition, psychological factors may contribute to your pain

Some causes of chronic pelvic pain are listed below:

  • Interstitial cystitis. Chronic inflammation of your bladder and a frequent need to urinate characterize interstitial cystitis. You may experience pelvic pain as your bladder fills, which may improve temporarily after you empty your bladder.
  • Tension in your pelvic floor muscles. Spasms or tension of the pelvic floor muscles can lead to recurring pelvic pain.
  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. This can occur if you have a long-term infection, often sexually transmitted, causes scarring involving your pelvic organs.
  • Fibroids. These noncancerous uterine growths may cause pressure or a feeling of heaviness in your lower abdomen. They rarely cause sharp pain unless they become deprived of nutrients and begin to die (degenerate).
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome — bloating, constipation or diarrhea — can be a source of uncomfortable pelvic pain and pressure.
  • Psychological factors. Depression, chronic stress or a history of sexual or physical abuse may increase your risk of chronic pelvic pain.

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