Pain in the womb area could be caused by a wide range of conditions, from simple monthly period paid to chronic conditions such as endometriosis. Identifying the cause of the pain is vital in order to find treatment options or methods for managing the condition.
The most common type of pelvic pain experienced by women is menstrual cramps. The pain occurs when the uterus contracts in order to shed the endometrial lining which grows every month and is shed when an egg isn't fertilized. Although mild in most women, menstrual cramps can be unbearably painful for some. In these cases, it's important to seek medical advice to check whether there is another gynecological condition at play.
Hormonal contraception can sometimes be helpful in reducing the severity of menstrual cramps. In some instances, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be used to help manage pain.
The term "mittelschmerz" originates from the two German words "middle" and "pain" and is used to describe pain experienced during ovulation. When an egg develops in the ovary, it's surrounded by follicular fluid and during ovulation, both the eggs and the fluid, along with a small amount of blood, are released. It is thought that the fluid or blood irritates the lining of abdominal cavity until the body reabsorbs the substances.
Mittelschmerz isn't experienced by every woman, and the severity of the pain varies among those that do. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, but it tends to occur around the same time every month, around 12 to 14 days before the start of a period.
Endometriosis causes chronic pain in the womb area for around 1 in 10 women in the US. The condition occurs when endometrial tissue, which is usually found in the lining of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus on other parts of the body, most commonly in the pelvic cavity. It can attach to any of the reproductive organs, in the spaces around the bladder, vagina, and rectum, and, less commonly, on the bowel or intestines.
During menstruation when the endometrial lining of the uterus sheds, endometrial cells elsewhere in the body also begin to break away and this can cause intense pain. For many women, this pain will occur throughout the month, not just during their period.
A heavy flow, incredibly painful cramps, and periods that last longer than seven days are all common in endometriosis patients. Pain during sex, nausea and vomiting, and bowel and urinary disorders may also be experienced. Infertility is also a common side effect, with some women only being diagnosed with the condition after having trouble conceiving.
Over time, scar tissues and adhesions can build up throughout the pelvic cavity, which may cause further complications. Organs may become bound together and the anatomy could move out of place. Laparoscopic excision surgery can be performed to rectify these problems and remove lesions where necessary.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an incredibly common cause of chronic pelvic pain in women affecting around 2.5 million women in the US. It is an infection of the upper genital tract and causes pain in the womb area, including the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Women with PID may also experience pain during sex and urination, bleeding after sex and in between periods, and unusual vaginal discharge. Heavy and painful periods are common, and in the most extreme cases, women may experience a fever and nausea or vomiting.
PID is caused by a bacterial infection which usually originates in the vagina or cervix and spreads to the reproductive organs. The infection could occur from bacteria that naturally exists in the vagina, or it may be caused by a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
The usual treatment for PID is antibiotics. Patients who have been prescribed antibiotics should avoid having sexual intercourse until the course is finished to ensure it completely clears.
If PID has been left untreated for a significant period of time, the fallopian tubes may become scarred and therefore narrowed. As a result, it might be difficult for eggs to travel to the womb from the ovaries, which increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy and in some cases can cause infertility. Chronic pelvic pain in women may continue long after successful treatment of PID if the condition was undiagnosed and untreated for too long.