If you live with unbearable pelvic pain, you’re not alone. Millions of teen girls and women suffer from severe, ongoing pain that makes it hard to sleep, work, or go to school.
But there is good news. Today, there are more treatments for pelvic pain than ever before — and you’ll find the latest medical and surgical therapies at Tower Health.
About Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain refers to any pain in the lowest part of the abdomen, below your belly button. If your pain lasts six months or longer, it’s called chronic pelvic pain.
The first step in treating pelvic pain is to pinpoint its cause. It is important to see a doctor who has experience managing pelvic pain, because symptoms can be caused by more than one medical problem at a time. Some causes of pelvic pain include:
- Endometriosis. Endometrial (uterine) tissue grows outside the uterus. Over time it builds up and forms scar tissue in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, or bowel.
- Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome). Causes bladder and pelvic pain or pressure with a frequent urge to urinate.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease. Inflammation in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus caused by an untreated infection that spreads.
- Ovarian cysts. Fluid-filled sacs that grow inside, or on the surface of, one or both ovaries.
- Uterine fibroids. Benign (noncancerous) lumps that grow inside the uterus.
These conditions have several symptoms in common. In addition to pelvic pain, they can cause:
- Frequent urination
- Lower back pain
- Painful periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pressure
- Unusually heavy periods, or bleeding between periods
Diagnosing Endometriosis or Pelvic Pain
If your doctor thinks you have endometriosis or another pelvic condition, you may have one or more of the following tests:
- Pelvic exam. Your doctor examines your internal reproductive organs to feel for abnormalities such as cysts or scar tissue.
- Lab tests. Blood or urine tests let your doctor assess your body’s estrogen levels. They also help rule out problems like urinary tract infections, bleeding disorders, or gynecologic cancer.
- Imaging tests. Certain radiology procedures, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, take pictures of the pelvic organs.
- Endoscopic procedures. Cameras attached to catheters (thin tubes) allow doctors to see the bladder, uterus, or other reproductive organs.
- Laparoscopy. In some cases, the only way to confirm the cause of pelvic pain is through a type of minimally invasive surgery called laparoscopy. During this procedure, your doctor can examine your reproductive organs for visible signs of disease and take tissue samples.
Nonsurgical Care for Endometriosis or Pelvic Pain
For many women, endometriosis, and other causes of pelvic pain can be managed without surgery. Depending on your diagnosis, you may need one or more of the following treatments:
- Medicine. Prescription medicines include hormonal contraceptives, tri-cyclic antidepressants, aromatase inhibitors, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists or antagonists. These medicines may block pain, relax the bladder, lower estrogen levels, prevent menstruation, or prevent cysts from recurring.
- Nerve stimulation. Nerve stimulators are small devices that work like heart pacemakers. When placed under the skin, these devices send electrical impulses to nerves that control the bladder.
- Pelvic floor rehabilitation. Physical therapists help improve symptoms by making pelvic floor muscles stronger. They teach techniques like bladder training, exercises, and relaxation methods.
Surgical Treatments for Endometriosis or Pelvic Pain
If conservative (nonsurgical) treatments don’t help, you may need gynecologic surgery. Tower Health offers the full range of surgical options to treat conditions that cause pelvic pain.
Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive options that may improve your quality of life with less surgical pain, fewer complications, and a faster recovery. These options include laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery, and vaginal access procedures.
Our areas of expertise include:
- Cystectomy. Surgery to remove cysts.
- Embolization. Your doctor injects special materials into the blood vessels that feed the uterus. This cuts off blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink and die.
- Endometrial ablation. Uses heat, microwave energy, or electric currents to destroy the uterine lining. This can improve abnormal bleeding or permanently stop menstruation.
- Endometriosis excision. Surgery to remove abnormal endometrial tissue without harming the uterus.
- Hysterectomy. Surgery to remove all or part of the uterus.
- Myomectomy. Surgery to remove uterine fibroids.
- Oophorectomy. Surgery to remove one or both ovaries.
- Radiofrequency ablation. Uses low-energy radiation to destroy fibroids and shrink the blood vessels that feed them.
The type of surgery you’ll need depends on several factors. These include your age, overall health, severity of symptoms, and whether you want to preserve fertility.