You’re used to dealing with some discomfort during your periods, perhaps even moving beyond discomfort to meaningful pain during the first couple of days, thanks to cramps. While this type of pain is a perfectly normal part of menstruation, pelvic pain that’s severe or that occurs outside your periods is not.
There are many roads that lead to pelvic pain, but Dr. Fernando Otero and the team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley want to focus on three of the most common — endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and uterine fibroids. Let’s take a look.
One of the most common culprits behind pelvic pain is a condition called endometriosis, which may affect about 11% of American women during their reproductive years (between the ages of 15 and 44).
Inside your uterus is the endometrium, which is composed of tissues that line the organ. This lining thickens with nutrients and blood each month to prepare to host a fertilized egg. When such an egg doesn’t arrive, the tissue sheds out, which is what creates your period.
When you have endometriosis, these tissues and cells grow outside your uterus, often attaching themselves to neighboring organs or support structures, such as your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or outer walls of your uterus.
Unfortunately, these tissues react to your menstrual cycles,but they have nowhere to shed out, which can lead to adhesions (scar tissue) and inflammation.
These endometrial implants and pelvic-wide inflammation can lead to different types of pelvic pain, including general pain, especially painful periods and pain during intercourse (because the activity tugs on adhesions in your pelvis).
2. Pelvic inflammatory disease
If you are infected with a sexually transmitted disease, and you don’t treat the problem, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Considering that there are an estimated 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year in the United States, PID is exceedingly common.
As the name suggests, PID can lead to pelvic pain thanks to the inflammation. Worse still, the longer it goes untreated, the more vulnerable you are to fertility problems.
3. Uterine fibroids
Even more common than either of the two issues we outline above are uterine fibroids, which affect an estimated 70-80% of women during their lifetimes.
The good news is that most fibroids are benign and don’t cause any symptoms, which means you may never know of their existence.
In less common cases, these growths can grow large or numerous enough that they can lead to symptoms like pelvic pain. This pain may be more of a feeling of pressure on your lower abdomen or it may be discomfort during intercourse. You can also experience a dull ache in your lower back when you have a problematic uterine fibroid.
While the above three account for more than their fair share of pelvic pain, there are other culprits. Our view is that any pelvic pain outside your normal periods is worth investigating further. Not only can our team help you find relief from your pelvic pain, we may also help prevent larger problems from taking hold.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of your pelvic pain, please contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas.