Pelvic pain is categorized as either acute or chronic. Acute pelvic pain develops quickly and subsides quickly, often without requiring any medical intervention. Chronic pain is discomfort that lasts more than six months beyond the expected healing time of an injury.
Causes of Pelvic Pain
A common cause of pelvic pain is ovulation. The ovaries of women with regular menstrual cycles produce cysts, also known as follicles. As the cysts enlarge, an egg inside the dominant follicle matures and signals the ovary to ovulate. When ovulation occurs, some women experience pain called mittelschmerz, or ovulation pain. This is caused by the opening of the cyst to allow release of the eggs near the fallopian tubes, for fertilization. Occasionally, cysts may persist and become enlarged or painful. Opened or ruptured cysts may also bleed into the pelvic cavity. Except in rare circumstances, this is harmless, and no treatment is needed. This type of pain can be prevented by the use of birth control pills, which block the ovulation process.
Other possible causes of pelvic pain may include the following:
- Disorders of the reproductive system, urinary tract, bowel, nervous system and musculoskeletal system
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pain that lingers on after surgery (due to tissue or nerve damage)
- Adenomyosis (presence of endometrial tissue within or growing into the uterus muscle)
Treating Pelvic Pain
Managing pelvic pain may include various treatments:
- Birth control pills are often prescribed for acute and cyclic pelvic pain related to menstrual cycles.
- Birth control pills work by blocking the ovulation process and prevent the pain associated with ovulation or endometriosis.
- Surgery may be indicated in some cases, depending on the cause of the pain.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy and biofeedback techniques help patients learn to manage their pelvic pain or pelvic discomfort symptoms.
Pelvic Pain Management
While many chronic pain conditions cannot be cured, the pain can often be managed. The term pain management describes the medical practice devoted to improving quality of life for patients who suffer with chronic pain. Our goal is to help you manage chronic pain successfully. Pain management can take many forms, with the best outcomes generally seen with a multimodal approach.
- Holistic approaches such as meditation, massage and others can be helpful.
- Psychological approaches can help patients deal with frustrating chronic pain and associated anxiety and depression.
- Medications can help bring the pain to a more tolerable level.
- Interventions, such as nerve blocks or other procedures, can help decrease the overall level of pain, depending on the diagnosis.
- Physical therapy can help improve the patient’s ability to function despite ongoing chronic pain, or help decrease the pain.
- Surgical approaches, including implantable pain control devices, may be needed in some cases to control pain that does not respond to more conservative approaches.
No one approach works for all patients, and our physicians and care team will design an approach customized for you.
These issues can be embarrassing but can be resolved. Your first step is to talk with one of our specialists.
Houston Methodist combines the expertise of urogynecologists — specialty physicians trained in the areas of urology and gynecology — as well as traditional gynecologists and colorectal surgeons to provide the most advanced care available for women and men with problems related to the lower urinary tract and the pelvic floor. The Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital is the first of its kind in the Greater Houston area and is one of the few centers in the country that offers a single-center location for the diagnosis and treatment of complex pelvic-floor disorders.
Our physicians at Houston Methodist specialize in managing pelvic pain at the following convenient locations.