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Emergency Pelvic Pain Diagnosis: Signs That You Need Urgent Care!

The pelvic region extends from your abdomen to the thighs. Any kind of pain or discomfort you experience in this region is called pelvic pain. This pain can arise from your reproductive, digestive, and urinary systems. Certain infections and pelvic bone injuries also cause pelvic pain. The pain can affect your daily routine in ways you cannot imagine. To make matters worse, many people ignore the problem until the pain gets almost unbearable.

In women, pelvic pain can be an indication of issues in the reproductive organs situated in the pelvic area (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc.). It is imperative that you seek urgent medical care for sudden severe pelvic pain that persists beyond a day or two.

In this blog, you’ll learn everything about pelvic pain and its causes. You will also learn how to prevent it and when to seek immediate medical attention.

A] Understanding The Common Causes of Pelvic Pain

Listed below are causes of severe pelvic pain. These causes of pelvic pain, can help you understand whether you need medical attention:

  • Endometriosis: It is a condition in which tissues similar to the uterus lining start growing in other places in the pelvic area. Endometriosis is often marked by sharp stabbing pelvic pain before and after your periods, during urination, and even during sex. 
  • Ovarian Cysts: Generally, ovarian cysts are harmless and do need any treatment. But large ovarian cysts can cause pelvic pain with sharp aches below your belly button. Ruptured ovarian cysts can also cause severe uterus pain. Ovarian cysts are common in younger women of childbearing age.
  • Uterine Fibroids: The uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growth in and around the uterus. Large fibroids can cause heaviness or discomfort in the lower abdomen and pelvis. This causes difficulty in urination and can lead to infection.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): The female reproductive organs can get infected when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from the vagina to the uterus. This can result in mild or sharp pain in lower abdomen and pelvis. Many women with PID may not experience the symptoms in the initial stage.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Women suffering from IBS may experience persistent pelvic pain below the belly button. The pain usually subsides after passing stool.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are common types of IBD. They cause pain and swelling in the intestines. Women with IBD can experience pelvic pain in the lower back or below the navel.
  • Gastrointestinal Infections: These infections usually last a few days. They generally cause cramps and discomfort in the abdomen.
  • Urinary Conditions: Bladder Pain Syndrome can often result in severe pelvic pain. There is no infection, but you will experience irritation and a frequent urge to urinate.
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): A sharp stabbing pelvic pain may also arise due to UTI. This is quite common among women.
  • Kidney Stones: The common symptoms of kidney stones include intense pain in the side and back. The pain shifts to the lower abdomen as you try to eliminate these stones from your body.
  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Relaxation and coordination of your pelvic floor muscles are essential to regulate your bowel & bladder functions. This becomes difficult due to pelvic floor dysfunction, where these muscles tighten and get tensed.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: The sacroiliac joint connects the pelvis and the lower spine. Abnormal movements in the sacroiliac joints can result in pelvic pain.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should contact a reputed healthcare provider for timely pelvic pain treatment.

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B] When to Seek Urgent Care for Pelvic Pain?

Emergency pelvic pain diagnosis is critical if you experience the following signs and symptoms.

1. Severe or sudden onset of pain

If you are experiencing sudden or severe onset of pain , this is a case for urgent medical care. Unbearable pain with a high degree of discomfort can also point to a more serious medical condition that you should not ignore at any cost. Any sudden severe pelvic pain that adversely affects your regular lifestyle is definitely a cause for concern.

2. Pain accompanied by fever or chills

Pelvic pain along with fever & chills can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects a woman’s reproductive organs. The symptoms may be mild in the beginning. But the pain can gradually turn chronic, and you may also have difficulty getting pregnant.

3. Vaginal bleeding or discharge

Abnormal vaginal discharge with a foul odour or heavy vaginal bleeding during sex are also signs of PID. Seek immediate medical attention if the vaginal bleeding is not related to your menstrual cycle. Your doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections. Immediate medical care helps you avoid pregnancy-related complications later.

4. Nausea or vomiting

Recurrence of pelvic pain with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea are typical symptoms of endometriosis. This may be a common occurrence after consuming food or during your periods. Seek urgent care for pelvic pain if you have regular long-lasting episodes of nausea. Any delay might affect your body’s ability to get adequate nutrition and lead to significant weight loss.

5. Difficulty urinating or defecating

Symptoms such as constipation and difficulty in passing stools or urine are common in cases of pelvic floor dysfunctions. Women generally have this problem after pregnancy if the labour is difficult. Good pelvic health is critical during pregnancy. The symptoms can worsen if not treated on time. Your doctor may advise suitable medications and physical therapy.

6. Fainting or dizziness

A pelvic pain emergency treatment is a must if the pain is accompanied by dizziness or fainting. The situation can be life-threatening if it is a case of ectopic pregnancy. This pregnancy cannot proceed normally as the foetus develops outside the uterus. Rupture of the fallopian tube can cause severe bleeding and death.

If you are worried about visiting a clinic and want to know what you can expect, you should refer to our detailed first-visit guide. It will help alleviate your fears and worries about the treatment.

C] What to Expect During Emergency Care for Pelvic Pain?

Your doctor may ask questions about your health condition and history. They may also perform a physical examination of the abdomen and pelvis. This is helpful in deciding whether additional tests & procedures are required in emergency pelvic pain diagnosis. The tests include the following:

1. Diagnostic tests

  • Pelvic Ultrasound: This testing procedure uses sound waves to observe the organs inside the pelvic region. Pelvic ultrasound scans can accurately diagnose complications related to female reproductive organs.
  • Pelvic MRI: This test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of the pelvis.
  • CT Scan: This test can help in detecting any abnormal growth in the pelvic region.
  • Blood & Urine Tests: Your doctor may advise a blood test to check the blood cell count and a urine test to check for a UTI.

Based on the test and the diagnosis, the healthcare provider will suggest a treatment suggested for pelvic pain depending on factors such as the cause, frequency, and intensity of pain.

2. Pain management techniques

As we have determined, If you have a lower abdominal pain emergency, your doctor might suggest varying treatments based on your diagnosis, which include the following approaches:

  • Suitable antibiotics are prescribed by your doctor to treat infections. 
  • Physical therapy, such as massage, stretching exercises, and certain relaxation techniques, can ease chronic pelvic pain. 
  • Neurostimulation treatment involves implanting a device that acts as a nerve block and prevents the pain signal from reaching the brain.

3. Surgical intervention

Surgery is required in a few cases where severe pelvic pain arises from your pelvic organs. For instance, laparoscopic surgery is performed to remove the endometrial tissues if the pelvic pain is due to endometriosis. In extremely rare and complicated cases, a hysterectomy is recommended to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.

Persistent or recurring pelvic pain can make your normal life tough. Apart from medicines & surgeries, doctors may prescribe psychotherapy to address mental depression and trauma associated with pelvic pain.

D] Preventing Pelvic Pain Emergencies

It is quite difficult to prevent sudden severe pelvic pain. But you can take a few measures to reduce the risk factors. Some useful tips to limit the risk of developing serious complications are discussed below.

1. Practising safe sex

Sexually transmitted infections (STI), such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, are common in women affected by the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Having unprotected sex is the primary cause of the spread of these harmful bacteria to the female reproductive organs. The following measures can help you reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.

  • Always use a condom while having sex. To prevent STIs, use a condom even if you take birth control pills.
  • Know about your partner’s sexual history. Avoid sex with a person who has multiple sexual partners and is unwilling to share their medical history.
  • Go for regular testing if you are at higher risk of contracting STIs. You can also prevent STIs by requesting your partner to get tested.
  • Avoid vaginal douching, as the risks far outweigh the benefits. It can disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.

2. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for your overall physical health. Avoid food that is not conducive to your pelvic organs. If you are not sure, consult a dietician to chalk out a diet plan for you. Stay physically active and maintain a healthy body weight, it goes a long way in preventing pelvic pain.

Regular physical exercises stimulate proper blood flow. It helps your body release feel-good hormones (endorphins) whenever it experiences pain or stress. But avoid heavy workouts and always start your exercise regimen with good stretching & warmups. This can reduce the risk of suffering pelvic injuries.

3. Seek Prompt Medical Care for any Pelvic Pain or Unusual Symptoms

Sudden and sharp pains in lower abdomen is definitely a red flag and a sign for you to seek immediate medical care. Consult your doctor if the pain persists beyond a week and hampers your daily life.

Sudden pelvic pain causes are often related to digestive, urinary, and reproductive issues. Your doctor may advise you to take a couple of tests to confirm the cause. It is important to get yourself examined quickly by a medical professional to prevent future complications.

Sudden pain can often point toward more serious health conditions and cannot be ignored. 

Take the matter seriously if you notice any symptom that is abrupt or unusual. This includes fever, nausea & vomiting, vaginal bleeding, and blood in stool or urine.

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Pelvic pain refers to any kind of pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen and pelvis regions. This pain can arise from your digestive, reproductive, or urinary systems. Chronic pelvic pain can also stem from muscles and tissues in the pelvic floor.

You must seek urgent care for pelvic pain if it is sudden, sharp, recurring, or persistent. Consult your doctor if the pain is affecting your daily life. Sudden intense pain can also be an indication of other serious health issues. After a physical examination, your doctor may recommend some diagnostic procedures to confirm the cause and prescribe the right treatment.

The treatment depends on the cause, intensity, and frequency of pain. Suitable medication and physical therapies can be prescribed. Surgery is required only for rare complicated cases. Speak to your doctor to know the best solution for your pelvic problem.

Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.