Pelvic pain is pain in the lowest part of your abdomen and pelvis. In women, pelvic pain might refer to symptoms arising from the reproductive, urinary or digestive systems, or from musculoskeletal sources.
Depending on its source, pelvic pain can be dull or sharp; it might be constant or off and on (intermittent); and it might be mild, moderate or severe. Pelvic pain can sometimes radiate to your lower back, buttocks or thighs. Sometimes, you might notice pelvic pain only at certain times, such as when you urinate or during sexual activity.
Pelvic pain can occur suddenly, sharply and briefly (acute) or over the long term (chronic). Chronic pelvic pain refers to any constant or intermittent pelvic pain that has been present for six months or more.
Several types of diseases and conditions can cause pelvic pain. Chronic pelvic pain can result from more than one condition.
Pelvic pain can arise from your digestive, reproductive or urinary system. Recently, doctors have recognized that some pelvic pain, particularly chronic pelvic pain, can also arise from muscles and connective tissue (ligaments) in the structures of the pelvic floor. Occasionally, pelvic pain might be caused by irritation of nerves in the pelvis.
If you suddenly develop severe pelvic pain, it might be a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention promptly. Be sure to get pelvic pain checked by your doctor if it's new, if it disrupts your daily life, or if it has gotten worse over time.
March 31, 2017
- Cunningham FG, et al. Pelvic pain. In: Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 25, 2016.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ099. Chronic pelvic pain. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Chronic-Pelvic-Pain. Accessed Feb. 25, 2016.
- Howard F. Evaluation of chronic pelvic pain in women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2016.
- Longo DL, et al. Menstrual disorders and pelvic pain. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 25, 2016.
- Howard F. Causes of acute pelvic pain in women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 25, 2016.
- Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/prostatitis-disorders-of-the-prostate/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed Feb. 29, 2016.