Although pelvic pain often refers to pain in the region of women's internal reproductive organs, pelvic pain can be present in men, too, and can stem from multiple causes. Pelvic pain may be a symptom of infection or may arise from pain in the pelvic bone or in non-reproductive internal organs, such as the bladder or colon. In women, however, pelvic pain can very well be an indication that there may be a problem with one of the reproductive organs in the pelvic area (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, or vagina).
What Causes Pelvic Pain?
Possible causes of pelvic pain in both men and women may include:
- Bladder disorders
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Kidney infection or kidney stones
- Intestinal disorders
- Nerve conditions
- Pelvis disorder
- Broken pelvis
- Psychogenic pain
Possible causes of pelvic pain in women only may include:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Menstrual cramps
- Ovarian cysts or other ovarian disorders
- Uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
What Symptoms Suggest a Problem?
- Menstrual cramps
- Menstrual pain
- Vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge
- Painful or difficult urination
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating or gas
- Blood seen with a bowel movement
- Pain during intercourse
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the hip area
- Pain in the groin area
How Is the Cause of Pelvic Pain Determined?
To determine what is causing pelvic pain, your doctor will first ask you several questions about your symptoms and past medical problems. He or she will also perform a physical exam and may offer you tests to determine what is causing your pain. Other tests that may be given include:
- Blood and urine tests
- Pregnancy tests in females of reproductive age
- Vaginal or penile cultures to check for sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and/or chlamydia
- Abdominal and pelvic X-rays
- Bone density screening (special type of X-ray to determine the strength of bone)
- Diagnostic laparoscopy (procedure allowing a direct look at the structures in the pelvis and abdomen)
- Hysteroscopy (procedure to examine the uterus)
- Stool test (checking a stool sample for microscopic blood)
- Lower endoscopy (insertion of a lighted tube to examine the inside of the rectum and part or all of the colon)
- Ultrasound (test that uses sound waves to provide images of internal organs)
- CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis (scan that uses X-rays and computers to produce an image of a cross-section of the body)
How Is Pelvic Pain Treated?
The treatment of pelvic pain varies depending on the cause, how intense the pain is, and how often the pain occurs. Sometimes, pelvic pain is treated with medications, including antibiotics if necessary. If the pain results from a problem with one of the pelvic organs, the treatment may involve surgery or other procedures. A doctor can provide more information about various treatments for pelvic pain.