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Diagnosing & Treating Pelvic Pain


Pelvic pain is painful discomfort between the bellybutton and pubic bone — the lower abdominal region. Chronic pelvic pain is pelvic pain lasting for more than six months.

If you’re a woman living with pelvic pain in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health who can help. We offer women’s services at all four of our Bay Area hospitals.

Common Causes of Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is usually a sign of another condition, such as:

  • Adhesions, bands of tissue that can form as part of healing after surgery or injury
  • Diverticulitis, inflammation of parts of the colon
  • Endometriosis, when the tissue that normally lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, which causes abdominal pain as well as frequent bowel movements and loose stools
  • Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis), a bladder problem associated with the sudden urge to urinate
  • Pelvic floor disorders, which weaken the muscles that control urination
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the reproductive organs often caused by sexually transmitted bacteria
  • Uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors of the uterus
  • Vulvodynia, pain in the external female genitals

Because pelvic pain has so many different causes, your doctor may need to perform a variety of tests to determine why you are in pain.

Signs of Pelvic Pain

The experience of pelvic pain varies greatly from woman to woman. Symptoms of pelvic pain may include:

  • Dull or sharp pain in the pelvic region
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Pain that worsens during your menstrual period
  • Steady pain

Pelvic Pain Treatment at Dignity Health

Treatment of pelvic pain depends on what’s causing the pain as well as your medical history, personal values, lifestyle habits, age, and your overall health. Treatment options include:

  • Counseling. Group or one-on-one counseling sessions can help you cope with the challenges of living with chronic pelvic pain.
  • Lifestyle modifications. Improving your overall health may improve your pelvic pain. For example, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise may reduce pain.
  • Medication. Doctors use medication to relieve pain and treat its underlying causes. Medications that may be used to treat pelvic pain include pain relievers, antidepressants, hormone treatments, muscle relaxants, and antibiotics.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapists may recommend strengthening exercises or massage to reduce pelvic pain.
  • Surgery. Doctors may use surgery to relieve pelvic pain caused by adhesions, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis when other treatments haven’t helped.

With accurate diagnosis and treatment, many women are able to find relief from pelvic pain. Talk to your Dignity Health doctor today to decide on a treatment.

Dignity Health provides personal care for pelvic pain in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.