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Diagnosing chronic pelvic pain

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The cause of a woman's long-term or chronic pelvic pain can be hard to diagnose.

Without identifying the cause of the  pain, it is difficult to begin treatment to tackle the problem.

It can help to make a detailed list of your symptoms, both physical and emotional, to share with your doctor. Also make a note of:

  • When did you start having each symptom?
  • Has anything helped reduce the  pain?
  • Is the pain worse some times more than others?
  • Is the pain related to your periods?
  • Have you experienced any injuries, health conditions or operations?

Because chronic pelvic pain often has more than one cause, you may need to see more than one specialist. First see your  GP. For many women,  pelvic pain is related to a problem with their  reproductive system.

Possible causes of pelvic pain to be investigated may include:


Tests for chronic pelvic pain

Tests include:

  • Pelvic examination
  • Checking posture and sitting position
  • Pressing on areas of the abdomen and pelvic area to check for pain
  • Checking pelvic muscles
  • Urine test for any urinary tract infection
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Laparoscopy: A device with a camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to look at the pelvic organs and to take tissue samples if necessary
  • Hysteroscopy. A camera is fed through the vagina into the uterus to help diagnose any pain causing problems
  • Pain mapping. This technique is an option to use a laparoscope under local anaesthetic to probe and identify areas of pain to map out sensitive areas


Treatment for chronic pelvic pain

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis and cause of the pain.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises may also be advised.

Psychiatrists and psychologists may also help with stress and anxiety reduction. This doesn't mean doctors think pain is 'in the mind' but some mental health conditions can make pain seem worse.

A consultation with a pain specialist may also be recommended.

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Reviewed on August 15, 2016

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