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Women's Health

Relief From Chronic Pelvic Pain

Many women -- and their doctors -- never realize the mysterious pain they feel has a diagnosis.
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New Understanding of Chronic Pelvic Pain continued...

He says chronic pain causes what's called CNS upregulation, or an increasing sensitivity of cells that transmit pain sensation.

Perry explains that the spinal cord not only transmits pain signals up to the brain but also back down to other organs. "That's how the bladder can get involved, and there's such a huge association between endometriosis and IC -- the evil twins."

He tells WebMD that if chronic pelvic pain isn't stopped, it will lead to multiple disorders and ultimately become a total end-stage disease. "We want to educate health care providers so patients get proper treatment and avoid going into chronic pelvic pain syndrome."

Another expert, Deborah A. Metzger, MD, PhD, has a different take. She believes inflammation causes chronic pelvic pain. "Treat the inflammation, and a lot of the pain goes away," she says.

She's found that sugar and allergies are involved in chronic pelvic pain. "I always test for allergies," she says. "For example, vulvar pain for most women is related to food allergies. Another component is allergies to skin fungi, such as candida."

Metzger, medical director of Harmony Women's Health in Los Altos, Calif., takes an integrative approach to CPP. She tells WebMD it's time for health care professionals to expand their view of women's health. "It's more than periods, menopause, and having babies," she says. "The true picture of women's health involves all the problems that are predominantly female, including IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, allergies and asthma, autoimmune disease, and thyroid disorders."

The field of pain management adds another piece to the chronic pelvic pain puzzle. Roy E. Grzesiak, PhD, is a consulting psychologist with the New Jersey Pain Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.

"We need to differentiate between people who have persistent pain based on a biological illness or dysfunction and go on living and loving and parenting, and those people whose total being gets enmeshed with pain, treatment, the drugs, getting disability, etc. Many in this latter group have a history of trauma, such as rape, sexual abuse, or physical abuse."

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