The Psychology of Pelvic Pain: It’s Not All in Your Head

By June 17, 2019 June 19th, 2019 Blog, Pelvic Pain

Living with chronic pelvic pain can be a debilitating, stressful and all-consuming experience. It can be a process that’s often difficult to navigate.

Sometimes pelvic pain has an identifiable source, such as an infection or cyst. Other times, there are multiple different pain generators and elucidating the cause can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Patients can be tossed around from doctor to doctor. They can often feel like it’s “in their head.” Understanding the relationship between emotional distress and pelvic pain is one of the most important parts in getting to the root cause.

As New York’s pelvic pain specialist, Dr. Sonia Bahlani’s mission is to get to the root of what’s causing your pelvic pain to help you find relief and regain control of your life. If you’re struggling to figure out what’s behind your pelvic pain, Pelvic Pain Doc is here to break down the psychology of pelvic pain and help you understand your symptoms from all angles.

Emotional Causes of Pelvic Pain

When pelvic pain is caused by an underlying condition like endometriosis or prostatitis, a pelvic pain specialist is able to label the issue and it’s easier for patients to understand where their pain is coming from. But more often than not the cause of pelvic pain is multi-factorial and difficult to decipher. This can lead to stress, or symptoms of despair and depression, making the entire process of diagnosis and treatment much more complicated.  

Some people suffering from pelvic pain go through months or years of doctor’s appointments, tests and examinations, only to be left with more questions than answers. It can be incredibly frustrating and stressful to live this way. If this sounds familiar, we want you to know you’re not alone — and it is not all in your head. Your pain is real and it is treatable, whether it’s coming from a physical source or an emotional one.

Just like pelvic pain can be caused by physical issues, it can also be associated with psychological factors like stress, past trauma and abuse. When we go through traumatic experiences, like physical or sexual abuse, our brains learn to suppress certain emotions in order to protect us from even more harm. If we don’t work to resolve our trauma and emotional stress, it can manifest in the body as pain. It’s an unconscious response that requires conscious effort to overcome. And this is just one example.

Breaking the Cycle of Pelvic Pain

In many cases, understanding the relationship and psychology behind or associated with pelvic pain can help put the pain into perspective. The cumbersome process of diagnosing and treating patients with pelvic pain can leave individuals feeling helpless, and this stress and frustration can often present in their symptoms. This leads to an ongoing cycle of pain: the feeling of pelvic pain leads to an increase in (or causes) emotional distress/anxiety/stress/depression, which leads to an increase in pain symptoms, which in turn leads to further stress and frustration.

Here’s how it works: imagine you broke your leg while skiing a few years ago. As a result, you began to avoid the sport and even thinking about it makes you tense up. Not only that: even though your injury is entirely healed, you still experience pain in your leg. This chronic pain isn’t actually caused by further injury — it’s a message from your brain reminding you of your past trauma. While acute pain (like when you accidentally touch a hot stove) protects you from harm, chronic pain isn’t useful and only gets in the way of your life.

To get you back to living a life free from pain, we have to break the cycle. The good news is that relief is totally possible with intervention. You have the power to take back control of your body, and you can learn to manage and overcome your pelvic pain.

How a Pelvic Pain Specialist Can Help

Dr. Bahlani’s unique training in gynecological, urological, and neuromuscular causes of pelvic pain enables her to understand that pelvic pain looks and feels different for everyone. No two cases of pelvic pain are the same so treatment needs to be customized to your unique situation. Dr. Bahlani can give you the tools and resources to understand and overcome both your physical and emotional symptoms.

Here at Dr. Bahlani’s office we believe in a multi-disciplinary approach to treating pain. We appreciate the expertise and additional support that working with a psychologist or psychiatrist can bring. If you feel as though depression, sexual abuse, a troubled relationship or other stressful situation could be associated with or worsening your pelvic pain, speaking to a professional can help you develop strategies to move through it. For treatment to be effective, you need to be open and willing to let go of the emotional trauma that’s affecting your quality of life. It can be tough work but it’s worth the effort to end the constant cycle of pain you’ve been living with.

No one deserves to live with pain. If you’re suffering from pelvic pain that stems from emotional or psychological issues, talk to a pelvic pain specialist about your treatment options. Ready to let go of your pain? Call Pelvic Pain Doc to book a consultation today.

Dr. Bahlani

Author Dr. Bahlani

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