Definition

Pelvic pain can happen between the belly button and the hips and groin. Chronic pelvic pain is pain that lasts for 6 months or more. It is often hard to locate the source of the pain. Problems in the intestines, nerves, bladder, and prostate can cause pelvic pain.

Male Pelvic Organs

Male pelvis lateral
Includes bladder, prostate (under bladder), and the colon.
© Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Many health problems can cause chronic pelvic pain:

  • Urinary conditions, such as a bladder infection or urinary tract infection
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression, or a history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Neuromuscular conditions
    • Pudendal neuralgia
    • Muscle pain
    • Nerve pain
    • Lower back pain
    • Joint and bone pain
    • Muscle strain

Risk

Alcohol or drug abuse may raise your risk of chronic pelvic pain.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Constant pain or dull ache in the pelvic area
  • Burning, shooting pain
  • Urgent need to pass stool
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Pain that ranges from mild to severe
  • Pain with certain activities
  • Pain with lengthy sitting

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked to keep a pain diary. Write down when your pain happens, how it feels, and how long it lasts.

Your body's fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Cultures and swabs
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Images of your body may need to be taken. This can be done with:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This may include:

Medications

Chronic pelvic pain is treated based on what caused it:

  • Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain and reduce inflammation
  • Prescription pain medicine
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiseizure medications

Complementary therapies

The following have been used to treat pelvic pain:

Interventional approaches

In some cases, interventional approaches, including nerve blocks, may be used.

counseling

Managing stress through counseling is a helpful way to cope with chronic pelvic pain.

Surgery

There are many causes of pelvic pain. Some are treated with surgery. The type of surgery depends on the problem you are having.

Prevention

Preventing chronic pelvic pain depends on what is causing it. Some causes are not preventable.

STIs cause many conditions that result in chronic pelvic pain. Use latex condoms every time you have sex. Multiple sex partners can increase your risk of STIs.

You may also be able to lower your risk of chronic pelvic pain through exercise. If allowed by your doctor, exercise for at least 30 minutes, 4 days a week.