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Chronic Female Pelvic Pain - Topic Overview

This topic focuses on pelvic pain that has lasted longer than 6 months. If you have new, sudden pelvic pain, see your doctor as soon as you can. To learn more about new pelvic pain, see the topic Abdominal Pain, Age 12 and Older.

Female pelvic pain is pain below a woman's belly button camera.gif. It is considered chronic (which means long-lasting) if you have had it for at least 6 months. The type of pain varies from woman to woman. In some women, it is a mild ache that comes and goes. In others, the pain is so steady and severe that it makes it hard to sleep, work, or enjoy life.

If your doctor can find what's causing the pain, treating the cause may make the pain go away. If no cause is found, your doctor can help you find ways to ease the pain and get back your quality of life.

Some common causes include:

Doctors don't really understand all the things that can cause chronic pelvic pain. So sometimes, even with a lot of testing, the cause remains a mystery. This doesn't mean that there isn't a cause or that your pain isn't real.

Sometimes, after a disease has been treated or an injury has healed, the affected nerves keep sending pain signals. This is called neuropathic pain. It may help explain why it can be so hard to find the cause of chronic pelvic pain.

The type of pain can vary widely and may or may not be related to menstrual periods. Chronic pelvic pain can include:

  • Pain that ranges from mild to severe.
  • Pain that ranges from dull to sharp.
  • Severe cramping during periods.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Pain when you urinate or have a bowel movement.

Chronic pain can lead to depression. Depression can cause you to feel sad and hopeless, eat and sleep poorly, and move slowly.

At your first visit, your doctor will do a complete pelvic exam to look for problems with your reproductive system. The doctor will also ask questions about your past and present health and about your symptoms. You may have some tests, such as:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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