Many women experience some type of pelvic pain throughout their life. Acute pain lasting from a few minutes to several days can be due to infection or inflammation. Because it’s sometimes difficult to determine what’s causing the pain, a visit to your doctor for a full medical history, physical exam and diagnostic testing is a good place to start.
Chronic pelvic pain is constant, strong pain lasting for more than 6 months and related to changes in the muscles, connective tissues and the nervous system. (The most common type of chronic pelvic pain is due to painful periods). Endometriosis, uterine fibroids and adhesions after surgery or severe infections also cause chronic pain. Often, women’s pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose and treat and may be due to
- Pelvic joint instability. Sometimes during pregnancy and after childbirth, the pelvic ligaments become unstable due to hormones and weight changes. This causes discomfort, even acute pain in the pelvis and lower back when changing position.
- Referred pain from internal organs, adhesions, muscular trigger points and joint/muscle dysfunction.
- Vulval pain syndrome - this is the term used for painful conditions in the vulval-vaginal area. Occasionally the accumulative effect of nerve and muscle damage, plus emotional trauma and fear, illness or poor nutrition overloads the nervous system and triggers off a vulval pain syndrome.
- Painful sex is related to tight PFMs, vulval pain, inadequate lubrication, prolapse, lower oestrogen levels, scars, adhesions, muscular trigger points and infection.
Treatment combines pain medication, physiotherapy (relaxation therapy, muscle releases, joint, muscular and postural realignment), complimentary treatments and psychosexual counseling. Other approaches include biofeedback, hypnotherapy and acupuncture. Surgical intervention may be required with endometriosis and fibroids.
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