Chronic Pelvic Pain - Ways to Overcome the Pain

Written by: Meenakshi Joshi – M Sc
(Psychology)

Last updated date : March 28, 2022

Have you ever felt pain? Surely, we all have gone through that feeling of pricking or poking pain. When you feel pain in the abdomen, it is referred to as chronic pelvic pain. You feel pain in the area below your belly button and between your hips. Also, chronic pelvic pain syndrome is commonly seen in females.

As a woman, dealing with pain or discomfort can be something that you have to do every month. The pain is felt mostly around your lower belly. For some, this pain may be dull and for a short time. But sometimes the pain could be persistent and sharp. This pain is called chronic pelvic pain. 

Chapter 1:
Ways to Recognize This Type of Pain

  • the pain lasts for six or more months
  • you might be dull or sharp
  • you might feel pain suddenly
  • the pain may come and go or it might be persistent
  • you might feel that the pain is coming from deep within you, your pelvis
  • get frequent cramps
  • you feel more pain while using the bathroom
  • pain during sex
  • after lifting heavy objects or doing a lot of physical work, the pain might increase
  • you won’t be able to sit for a long time

Additionally, for females, chronic pelvic pain syndrome might be more severe during their periods.

Is Chronic pelvic pain serious?

Any kind of pain can be serious if untreated. Hence, you should not ignore pain especially if it is chronic pain. This type of pain can cause several harmful effects on your body. It can also disrupt your life.

  • cause sleep problems.
  • you may have to take too many leaves from work. Your work output might reduce.
  • you might not want to or are not able to do much activity. For example – the constant pain might exhaust you to do even simple household chores like cooking or cleaning your cupboard.
  • decreased sexual pleasure and activity.
  • you might have to give up your hobbies. For example, if you like bike rides, you might not be able to do so due to the pain. Even activities like painting or playing piano might be difficult as you won’t be able to sit for a long time.
  • you might not be able to go on family outings or dinner with your spouse.
  • also, your mental health might get affected as you are constantly in pain.
  • you might feel depressed or angry at yourself for missing out on so many things in life.
Should I see a doctor?

Yes! You might see a doctor immediately if you have chronic pelvic pain. In case, you are not sure what kind of pain you are feeling or where exactly is the pain originating, still it is better to show a doctor. 

A doctor might ask you your medical history and would ask you to describe your pain. Be very specific and honest about how you are feeling. Tell everything about where you feel the how, when it started, how it feels, etc. Also, mention any changes in your life that have happened before or due to the pain. 

To diagnose chronic pelvic pain syndrome in females, the doctor might ask about your periods. So, do not hide or be shy about it. Also, share what medical procedures you have gone through in the past. Additionally, tell the doctor everything about the medicines you take or have taken in the past.

A physical examination will follow the detailed interview. First, the doctor will examine your pelvic region. In the case of females, a vaginal exam is also done. After which, you might have to get some tests and scans done. 

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Chapter 2:
What Are the Causes of Chronic Pelvic Pain?

There are several causes of this type of pain. A few general causes are

  • infection
  • swelling in muscles, joints, or bones of the pelvic area
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • food intolerance or allergy
  • pain in the bladder when it is full
  • nerves getting trapped in the pelvic area
  • depression or stress
  • trauma or abuse (sexual, physical, or psychological)

Additionally, in the case of chronic pelvic pain syndrome in females, some more causes can lead to this pain. Also, some women might have more than one reason or cause for this pain. However, in some cases, you might be able to identify the cause.

  • Endometriosis – there is a tissue lining on the inside of the uterus. If this lining grows on the outside of the uterus, then it may cause tremendous pain.
  • Infection in fallopian tubes – there might be an infection in the reproductive organs that can cause this pain.
  • Growth on the uterus – a noncancerous growth can come up on the wall of the uterus which may cause pressure or pain.
  • Ovarian surgery – a pain resulting from surgery of the ovaries.
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Chapter 3:
Treating Chronic Pelvic Pain

  1. Treating the cause of the pain – If you have a condition that is causing this pain, you need to treat the condition to reduce the pain. For example, you might have an infection. This infection causes pain. So, treat the infection and you will treat the pain.
  2. Drugs – Use medicines to relieve pain. But use medication only after consulting a doctor. Also, follow the dosage and timings as per instruction.
  3. Lifestyle changes – New diets or starting to exercise can reduce pain. You can manage pain by changing or correcting your posture.
  4. Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can help improve the overall strength and fitness of our bodies. You can use relaxation methods to reduce the tension that you may feel in your muscles and ease the pain you feel. However, for chronic pelvic pain syndrome in females, few specific techniques have been proven effective.
    1. Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation – Doing exercises that makes the pelvic floor muscle strong can help reduce pain. Additionally, you can take a massage or work on sitting in a more comfortable posture to reduce the pain.
    2. Kegel Exercises – You can do these exercises to make the urinary bladder stronger. Pregnancy, childbirth, aging, etc. can make these muscles weak. Working on these muscles can also reduce the pain you might feel in the pelvic region.
  5. Counseling You can get help by visiting a mental health professional. Learning to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression by developing coping skills will help to reduce the pain.
The Psychological side of pain

Sometimes there is no particular cause for chronic pelvic pain. Or there might be a cause but it might take time to reduce the pain. Also, there might be no specific cause in some cases.

In females, postpartum depression can cause chronic pelvic pain syndrome. In other words, a woman might feel depressed after delivery. You may think that the birth of a child is a happy thing. And yes, it is but sometimes due to the physical changes and emotional issues that a woman goes through after delivering a baby, she may feel uncomfortable and disturbed. This depression can come out as severe pain.

Also, the other causes of pain are anxiety and stress. Negative thoughts and emotions can affect your health. When you are stressed or upset, you might show some physical signs. You feel stressed and nervous when faced with a difficult situation. 

Managing pain

Therapy and counseling can be helpful to manage pain. You might need coping strategies and relaxation techniques to deal with the thoughts or emotions that result in pain.

  • Challenge the thoughts that disturb you
  • Accept who “you” are
  • Deal with a loss of a loved one or heartbreak
  • Overcome a trauma
  • Change habits which cause pain
  • Know what gives you stress and learn to manage stress

You need to identify the main cause behind the pain you feel. Try to understand what is actually troubling you? The emotions or thoughts that disturb you have to be changed. When you change these, the pain will automatically reduce as the root cause has been treated.

In conclusion, you may feel sharp and severe pain in your abdomen region. This chronic pelvic pain syndrome is found more in females. There may be several causes of this pain. You can deal with the physical side of the pain by understanding the emotions behind the pain.