Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

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 such as:

Risk Factors

Having any of the problems listed above will make the chances of pain in your pelvis higher.

Symptoms

Common symptoms are:

  • Constant pain or dull ache in the pelvis
  • Burning, shooting pain
  • Urgent need to pass stool or urine
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Pain that ranges from mild to severe
  • Pain with certain activities
  • Pain while sitting for a long time

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.

You may also have:

Treatment

Pelvic pain is treated based on what's causing it. It may involve one or more methods. Common ones are:

Medicines

  • Antibiotics to treat certain types of infections
  • Pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxers

Alternative Therapies

Other Methods

Chronic pelvic pain can also be treated with:

  • Nerve blocks
  • Surgery—the type depends on what's causing the pain
  • Counseling—to better help you cope with stress and pain

Prevention

Chronic pelvic pain not be preventable. It has many causes. If you're at high risk for problems, talk to your doctor.

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  https://familydoctor.org 

International Pelvic Pain Society  https://www.pelvicpain.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology  https://www.cag-acg.org 

The College of Family Physicians of Canada  https://www.cfpc.ca 

References

Chronic pelvic pain. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/chronic-pelvic-pain. Updated July 19, 2017. Accessed August 23, 2018.

Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115325/Chronic-prostatitis-Chronic-pelvic-pain-syndrome  . Updated February 29, 2016. Accessed August 23, 2018.

Levy BS. The complex nature of chronic pelvic pain. J Fam Pract. 2007;56(3 Suppl Diagnosis):S16-S17.

Pelvic pain. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/symptoms-of-gynecologic-disorders/pelvic-pain. Updated November 2016. Accessed August 23, 2018.

5/18/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Surveillance  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115325/Chronic-prostatitis-Chronic-pelvic-pain-syndrome  : Zhang R, Chomistek AK, et al. Physical activity and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Apr;47(4):757-764.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018
  • Update Date: 08/23/2018