Many women experience occasional episodes of pelvic pain, particularly at the time of their periods (also known as ‘dysmenorrhoea’). In fact, it is estimated that approximately 75 per cent of young women experience menstrual discomfort and up to 50 per cent of adult women. Indeed, one in five women will be prevented from continuing their daily activities by severe pelvic pain.
The majority of cases of pelvic pain can be treated without the need to see a doctor. However, chronic pain, painful periods or painful intercourse persisting beyond six months may be a symptom of underlying problems such as endometriosis – a condition that causes the endometrial lining to grow outside the womb. Another possible cause of pain is pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result from a sexually transmitted organism or from previous pelvic surgery and scarring; other symptoms include abnormal bleeding and fever. There are several other non-gynaecological reasons for pelvic pain. These can include irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, diverticulitis and fibromyalgia.
Most women report dysmenorrhoea occurring in their lower abdomen, below their belly button, and the pain can sometimes spread to the lower back and thighs. In reaching a diagnosis, Mr Broome will listen as you describe your symptoms and then conduct a thorough examination of these areas. The process may involve an internal examination of the pelvis using laparoscopic techniques. It may also be necessary to carry out laboratory tests such as a white blood cell count and urinalysis, as well as tests for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.