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Information from Your Family Doctor
Chronic Pelvic Pain: What You Should Know
Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jun 1;77(11):1544.
See related article on chronic pelvic pain.
What is chronic pelvic pain?
Chronic pelvic pain is pain that you may feel in the pelvis and lower stomach area. Many women have chronic pelvic pain, which lasts for more than six months, and can be very mild or very intense. The pain may be present all the time or it may come and go. It can interfere with work, exercise, sex, and other daily activities.
What causes it?
Many conditions can cause chronic pelvic pain. Some conditions may be related to the female reproductive organs, such as the uterus and ovaries. Other conditions may be related to the intestines, the muscles and ligaments in the pelvis, or the bladder. The pain also could be caused by scar tissue in the pelvis from infections or surgeries. Many times, the exact cause of the pain is unknown. Having chronic pelvic pain does not usually mean that you have a life-threatening condition. However, sometimes something serious, such as cancer or a bad infection, may cause the pain.
How do I find out if I have it?
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history. Tell your doctor about any surgeries, sexually transmitted diseases, or other infections you have had. He or she will give you a physical exam and will screen you for cancer. Your doctor may also do blood and urine tests or an ultrasound. An ultrasound will check the organs in your pelvis. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure called laparoscopy. This is when a surgeon places a tube with a tiny camera in your stomach to find out what is causing your pain.
How is it treated?
Your doctor may have you try different types of pain medicines. Birth control medicines may help some women. Changing your diet may help. Surgery might also be an option.
Where can I get more information?
American Academy of Family Physicians
Web site: http://familydoctor.org
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
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