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Why You Should Never Ignore Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain, or lower abdominal pain that occurs between your belly button and groin, can be a normal part of life, especially during your period. However, pelvic pain that’s severe, chronic, or interferes with your day-to-day life is often a warning sign that there might be an issue with your reproductive health. 

With offices in Napa, St. Helena, and Hidden Valley Lake, California, Dr. John Kirk at Adventist Health has years of experience helping women get to the bottom of their pelvic pain. While pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose, Dr. Kirk is committed to listening to your symptoms and working with you to reduce your discomfort. 

Here are just some of the health conditions that can cause pelvic pain.

Ovulation and menstrual cramps 

Pelvic pain can be a normal, albeit uncomfortable, part of a healthy reproductive cycle. Over half of menstruating women experience pain for a few days during their period. This type of pain is often caused by contractions as your uterus sheds its lining. 

Similarly, ovulation can cause normal temporary pain sometimes called “mittelschmerz”. This occurs when one of your two ovaries releases an egg and accompanying fluid, which can sometimes cause irritation and pain in your pelvic region. Generally, this pain occurs on one side of your body and lasts minutes to an hour. 

Bladder problems and STIs

Another common cause of pelvic pain involves issues with your bladder. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) can both cause sharp pelvic pain as well as other symptoms such as frequent urination, painful urination, and pain during sex. 

Additionally, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can often cause pelvic pain. Luckily, these STIs are usually easy to diagnose with a simple lab test and can be treated effectively with antibiotics. However, it’s important to be treated quickly as untreated STIs can infect the uterus, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and possible scarring and infertility. 

Endometriosis 

Endometriosis often causes pelvic pain, long periods, heavy bleeding and can lead to infertility if left untreated. The endometrium is the normal lining of your uterus which thickens during ovulation and thins during your period. While this is a normal part of menstruation, endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue can develop outside of your uterus, occuring on the exterior walls, the fallopian tubes, or even your ovaries.

Like normal tissue inside your uterus, endometrial tissue implants outside of your uterus will thicken and thin along with hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle, leading to bleeding and shed tissue that cannot exit the body. 

Dr. Kirk can diagnose this condition by listening to your symptoms and confirming via a pelvic exam, ultrasounds, and MRIs. Dr. Kirk also offers minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to help remove your endometrial adhesions if conservative treatments aren’t enough.  

Ovarian cysts

Each month during ovulation, your ovaries release an egg from its fluid-filled follicle into your fallopian tubes. However, ovarian cysts develop when the ovaries fail to fully release this egg, leading to the development of a cyst, which can cause bloating, pressure, or pain. Ovarian cysts can be diagnosed with ultrasounds and can be treated with conservative treatments or minimally invasive surgery

Some women who experience regular pelvic pain, painful periods, excess hair, excess weight, and acne may be experiencing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Although PCOS doesn’t have a cure, Dr. Kirk has experience helping women with PCOS manage their symptoms successfully. 

Fibroids 

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths made up of muscle and fibrous tissue that often grow in or around the walls of your uterus. Although they sometimes don’t cause any symptoms, they often cause pelvic pain, long and heavy periods, frequent urination, and constipation.

Dr. Kirk can diagnose fibroids during your pelvic exam or with additional testing such as lab work and ultrasounds. While most fibroids aren’t a cause for concern, Dr. Kirk offers both nonsurgical treatments and surgical options if your fibroids are causing severe symptoms. 

As one of the first providers of minimally invasive, robotic-assisted myomectomy since 2004, Dr. Kirk is an expert on treating your fibroids in the safest way possible. 

If you’re struggling with pelvic pain, don’t ignore the issue. Dr. Kirk has over 22 years of experience helping women get to the bottom of what’s causing their pain and treating the underlying conditions. Take the first step by calling 707-253-1135 or booking an appointment online.

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