Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2023;108(2):online

Related article: Evaluation of Acute Pelvic Pain in Women

What is acute pelvic pain?

It is pain or discomfort in your lower stomach or pelvic region (area below your stomach and between your thighs) that has been happening for less than three months.

What causes it?

Many things can cause it, including urinary, reproductive, and gastrointestinal problems. Some common examples are urinary tract infection, kidney stones, STDs, constipation, appendicitis, endometriosis, and problems with the ovaries.

What information is important for my doctor?

Your doctor will ask you questions to better understand your symptoms.

These may include information about when and how the pain started, other symptoms you are having, your sexual history, and what medicines you take. They may ask you about who you live with and your relationships.

It is important to share this information with your doctor to help find out what is causing your pain.

What exams and tests should I expect?

When appropriate, a pregnancy test will be performed.

The physical exam may include a pelvic exam, where the doctor looks at your vagina and cervix using a speculum. During the pelvic exam, swabs may be used to get samples to test for causes of your pain.

Ultrasonography may be ordered to get more information. A CT scan or MRI may also be performed to look at all the organs in your lower stomach and pelvis.

Procedures like surgery or a colonoscopy are sometimes needed to find out what is causing the pain.

What warning signs do I need to know about?

It may take time for your doctor to get the results of tests and exams. In the meantime, call your doctor right away if the pain suddenly gets worse, you have a lot of vaginal bleeding or new bleeding, or you have a fever.

August 2023

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