Part of being a woman involves dealing with discomfort in the pelvic region at one point or another. For some women, it may entail monthly menstrual cramps that are short-lived and manageable. For others, pain can linger and be quite severe, possibly signaling a condition known as chronic pelvic pain.
Women with chronic pelvic pain experience discomfort anywhere below the belly button and between the hip bones for six months. The pain can vary. For some, sharp and stabbing pain (sometimes similar to menstrual cramping) comes and goes. For others, it’s steady and dull, like a mild stomach ache. Often, pelvic pain can make it hard to live the kind of life you want, interfering with your ability to work, exercise, or have sex.
Chronic pelvic pain can be a symptom of a gynecologic problem, including endometriosis (when tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus) or adenomyosis. It can also occur in certain conditions that affect the bladder, intestines, the muscles in the pelvic floor, or even your spine. Often, multiple sources of pain can be identified at the same time. Sometimes, the cause of chronic pelvic pain remains unknown.
While not understanding the source of your pain can be frustrating, our Yale Medicine physicians are skilled at determining an appropriate treatment plan. We can help alleviate your symptoms using a variety of options, from medications to surgery, to get you back to your normal activities.
“It all begins with a full medical history and thorough physical exam. Once we identify the possible sources, we can start treatment. Sometimes we can cure their pain. For others, we may have to focus on improving their symptoms,” says Linda Fan, MD, a Yale Medicine gynecologic surgeon. “We believe in listening to our patients and building trust in order to maintain a therapeutic relationship.”