Itching, burning, swelling, fatigue, UTIs and painful intercourse: it’s not a pretty picture but these are all common symptoms of pelvic pain. Even though pelvic pain (pain that originates in the area below the belly button and above the legs) affects one in every seven women (and many men), it can be challenging to fully understand the underlying causes without professional help. Fortunately, pelvic pain is extremely treatable and New York’s pelvic pain specialist Dr. Sonia Bahlani is here to help. Ready to uncover what’s causing your pelvic pain? Here, Pelvic Pain Doc explains the common causes of pelvic pain and how to get back to living your life.
Common Causes of Pelvic Pain
Just like there are many diverse symptoms of pelvic pain, there are many different things that could be causing it. Some conditions are more serious than others, requiring surgical intervention, but most can be treated with medications, pelvic floor therapy or psychotherapy (or a combination of all three). If you’re experiencing pelvic or bladder pain, it could be caused by one of the following conditions:
- Vulvodynia or Vestibulodynia: These conditions are some of the most elusive causes of pelvic pain. Since they aren’t associated with any physical cause, it can be tricky to get to the root cause and patients may suffer for a long time before getting a proper diagnosis. Symptoms of vulvodynia/vestibulodynia include burning or feeling raw in or around the vagina, swelling or throbbing of the vulva, intense itching, and extreme pain during intercourse. A combination of therapies can lead to a pain-free life.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when uterine cells grow outside the uterus, typically on the bladder, ovaries or fallopian tubes. This can cause extremely painful and irregular periods, gastrointestinal discomfort and pain during urination, bowel movements and intercourse. If left untreated, endometriosis can cause infertility so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with a pelvic pain specialist. Medications and hormonal therapy can relieve symptoms of pelvic and bladder pain, but surgery may be necessary in extreme cases.
- Interstitial Cystitis: Also known as bladder pain syndrome, interstitial cystitis is characterized by a chronically inflamed bladder. Symptoms are similar to those of a urinary tract infection — such as frequent, painful and urgent urination — but without the presence of an infection. The exact cause is unknown but changes to diet and lifestyle can alleviate symptoms.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: The result of untreated sexually transmitted infections, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause exaggerated symptoms of STIs. Heavy vaginal discharge with an odor, pelvic tenderness, fatigue, and pain or bleeding during sex are all common symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease. You can avoid pelvic inflammatory disease by practicing safe sex and proper hygiene practices. Treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease is antibiotics.
- Uterine Fibroids: Pelvic pain can also be caused by non-cancerous lesions in or on the uterus, known as fibroids. While some women won’t experience any symptoms of uterine fibroids, others will feel pressure in the abdomen, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, constipation, and leg or back pain. In most cases, uterine fibroids don’t interfere with quality of life and intervention isn’t necessary. However, if fibroids are causing pelvic pain, hormonal therapy or surgery can help you find relief.
- Prostatitis: For men with pelvic pain, it could be a symptom of prostatitis, the inflammation of the prostate gland. Prostatitis can cause a host of urinary symptoms, such as pain, urgency, hesitancy and frequency during urination. Men with prostatitis may also experience pain symptoms such as painful ejaculations, or pain in the groin, pelvis, lower back or testicles. Most cases of prostatitis are treated with antibiotics.
- Psychological Distress: Often, pelvic pain doesn’t come from a physical source; it’s the result of the mind-body connection and psychological distress. Past trauma — whether physical, sexual or emotional — can manifest as pain in the body, which can in turn cause stress, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction and relationship problems. This cycle of pain takes time to overcome, but relief is possible by working with both a pelvic pain specialist and a psychologist.
Finding Relief From Pelvic Pain
When you’re suffering from pelvic pain, finding relief from your symptoms can feel impossible. Many people simply accept their pain as part of their life, but it’s important to understand that even though pelvic pain is common, it isn’t normal. You do not have to suffer in pain any longer — treatment is not only possible, it’s extremely effective. If you’re struggling to cope and find relief from your pelvic pain, call Pelvic Pain Doc to book your consultation today. You deserve a pain-free life and we’re here to help.