You’re experiencing pain in your pelvic region and you’re not sure whether it warrants medical attention. First, any time you’re in pain, it’s your body’s way of alerting you to a problem, so responding to the warning is always a good idea.
Second, pelvic pain can point toward issues that won’t simply go away on their own, not to mention the problem could get worse.
To give you an idea, our team here at Chicago Center for Women’s Health, under the expert direction of urogynecologist Denise Molina Furlong, MD, wants to focus on some of the more common causes of pelvic pain that we see here at our practice.
One of the most common drivers of pelvic pain is pain during your periods. More than half of women experience menstrual pain for one or two days each month, and the pain usually ranges from mild to moderate.
Unfortunately, some women experience moderate-to-severe menstrual cramps, a condition called dysmenorrhea.
This condition can be primary, which means that the pain is caused by the menstrual process. More specifically, the lining of your uterus produces chemicals called prostaglandins that cause the muscles and blood vessels in your uterus to contract.
Dysmenorrhea can also be secondary, which means it’s related to another reproductive issue and the discomfort flares with your menstrual cycles. The most common conditions that lead to secondary dysmenorrhea are:
This reproductive issue affects about 11% of women aged 15-44 and occurs when endometrial tissues (the lining of your uterus) grow outside your uterus. These misplaced tissues have nowhere to go when you cycle through your periods, often leading to painful periods.
Many women develop uterine fibroids without incident, but in some cases, their location, size, or number can create problems, including painful periods.
This is a condition in which the tissue that lines your uterus grows into the muscles in the walls of the organ, which can lead to painful menstruation.
There are other causes of secondary dysmenorrhea, but these are the most common.
If your pelvic pain seems to be unrelated to your menstrual cycles, there are several potential culprits, including:
You’ll notice that the last two on the list are also associated with painful periods. While the symptoms that accompany endometriosis and fibroids can heighten during your periods, they can also be constant companions or flare during certain activities, such as intercourse or urinating.
We want to note that if you’re pregnant, pelvic pain can signal a problem like ectopic pregnancy, so you should seek medical attention.
Even if you’re not pregnant, pelvic pain isn’t something you should just grit your teeth and bear. For most of the issues we outlined above, there are solutions that can help relieve the discomfort.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of your pelvic pain, please contact us at one of our two locations in Bedford Park or Oak Lawn, Illinois, to set up an appointment.