Pushing through the pain may help build muscles, but it’s never a good approach for your overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, many women are used to dealing with menstrual cramps, so they tend to push through pelvic pain.
But pelvic pain isn’t normal and should never be ignored. Here, Karen F. Brodman, MD, PLLC, offers some guidelines about when you should seek help for your pain.
Complex nature of pelvic pain
Pelvic pain can be acute (sudden and short-lived) or chronic (long-lasting). You could experience a dull ache, sharp pain, or a feeling of pressure or heaviness.
You may have constant pelvic pain or it could come and go. Or you might notice the pain at certain times, such as during sex or when you urinate.
Though pelvic pain takes many forms, any of them may be a red flag alerting you to an underlying problem.
When pelvic pain needs immediate medical care
Any time you have sudden, severe pelvic pain, you need immediate medical care. Though you can call us for a quick evaluation of your symptoms and to see if an office appointment is appropriate, this type of pelvic pain often signals an underlying problem that needs emergency care.
Go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of the following:
- Sharp, severe, or sudden pain
- Are currently or were recently pregnant
- Can’t stand up due to the pain
- Blood in your urine or stool
- Fever, chills, or sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
Severe symptoms usually mean you have an infection, inflammation, or obstruction that needs immediate medical attention to prevent serious complications.
Gynecological problems that commonly cause sudden severe pain include a ruptured ovarian cyst, ectopic pregnancy, and acute pelvic inflammatory disease.
When to get help for ongoing pelvic pain
Chronic pelvic pain is defined as pain that lasts 3-6 months or longer, but don’t wait that long to get help. In addition to getting relief from your pain, scheduling an early appointment allows us to find and treat gynecological conditions that cause long-term problems if they go untreated.
For example, endometriosis is a top cause of pelvic pain and one of the most common causes of infertility. However, early treatment for endometriosis significantly improves your ability to have a baby.
It’s time to schedule an appointment when you have pain that:
- Doesn’t improve or go away
- Causes a moderate to high level of discomfort
- Gradually gets worse or occurs more frequently
- Goes away and then returns
- Lasts more than a few weeks
- Gets worse during sex
- Affects daily life (stops you from exercising or makes you take time off)
Even mild or occasional pain needs attention if it doesn’t go away. You should also schedule an appointment if you have pelvic pain together with abnormal or heavy bleeding.
When you shouldn’t ignore period pain
Many women, especially adolescents, experience cramps during the first few days of menstruation. At the same time, severe pain is never normal. Period pain commonly occurs when the uterine muscles contract. It can also be the first sign of a gynecological condition.
In adolescent girls and women, endometriosis is the most common cause of severe period pain. However, you could have intense period pain due to problems such as adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, or an infection.
It’s time to get help for period pain when the pain is severe, lasts more than a few days, or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
Like any type of pelvic pain, you should also seek medical attention when severe menstrual cramps keep you away from your usual daily activities.
If you’re not sure whether your pelvic pain needs a doctor, call our office or request an appointment online today.