Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the female reproductive tract (gynecologist).

Depending on the suspected cause of your pain, he or she may refer you to a digestive system specialist (gastroenterologist), a urinary and gynecologic specialist (urogynecologist) or a specialist in musculoskeletal pain (physiatrist or physical therapist).

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment:

  • Make a list of any signs and symptoms you're experiencing. Include any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
  • Make a note of key medical information. Include any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications and the doses. Include any prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins or other supplements you're taking.
  • Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who goes with you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Prepare questions. Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What are the possible causes of my symptoms or condition?
  • What tests do you recommend?
  • If these tests don't pinpoint the cause of my symptoms, what additional tests might be necessary?
  • What approach will you recommend if we can't locate an underlying cause?
  • What types of treatments are most likely to improve my symptoms?
  • How long will I need to be treated?
  • How long might it take for me to feel better?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions you've prepared in advance, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may leave extra time to go over any points you'd like to have clarified. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing pelvic pain?
  • Has your pain changed or spread over time?
  • How often do you have pelvic pain?
  • How severe is your pain, and how long does it last?
  • Where is your pain located? Does it always occur in one place?
  • How would you describe your pain?
  • Does your pain come in waves or is it constant?
  • Do you feel pain during urination or a bowel movement?
  • Does your menstrual cycle affect your pain?
  • Does anything make your pain better or worse?
  • Does your pain limit your ability to function?
  • Have you recently felt down, depressed or hopeless?
  • Have you ever had pelvic surgery?
  • Have you ever been pregnant?
  • Have you ever been treated for a urinary tract or vaginal infection?
  • Have you ever been touched against your will?
  • What treatments have you tried so far for this condition? How have they worked?
  • Are you currently being treated or have you recently been treated for any other medical conditions?