Pelvic pain

Pelvic pain is pain in the pelvic area, the area between the hips. It is much more common in females than in males and can be related to problems with organs, muscles or nerves in the area. Pain can come from the bladder or, in women, the uterus or ovaries, for example.

Three types of pelvic pain are described in the table below. Interstitial cystitis (or bladder pain) is described under abdominal pain, but it can also cause pelvic pain.

Examples of pelvic pain

Dysmenorrhea: This is the medical term for menstrual cramping. The most common type of dysmenorrhea is primary dysmenorrhea, which is painful menstruation because of contractions of the uterus. Secondary dysmenorrhea occurs when menstrual cramping is due to an underlying gynecological disorder. There is a close link between dysmenorrhea and higher levels of a hormone called vasopressin, which may make contractions stronger and cause more pain. Dysmenorrhea can often make existing back or abdominal pain feel worse.

Vulvodynia: This is pain around the vulva, the female external genital organs, which can range from mild to severe. The exact cause is not known.

Chronic pelvic pain syndrome in men (CPPS): CPPS involves pain in the penis, testicles or rectum without an infection or other problem that could explain it. It is the leading reason for men under age 50 to see a urologist (specialist in genital and urinary systems). However, CPPS is not well understood.

See your healthcare provider if there is a change in your pelvic pain symptoms.

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