Some common causes of pelvic pain – and when you’ll need a gynaecologist

Many women report suffering from pelvic pain, and this kind of pain can often come on without warning. Pelvic pain that occurs suddenly for the first time is known as ‘acute pelvic pain’ – and if you experience this kind of discomfort it would be best to see your GP as soon as you can.

Some of the reasons for acute pelvic pain

Not all of the reasons for acute pelvic pain are necessarily gynaecological. Some of the most common causes of acute pelvic pain are:

Appendicitis – this is where the appendix becomes swollen and painful, and it may become necessary to have it removed. It’s important to see your GP immediately if you suspect you may have appendicitis, as it can potentially be a life-threatening condition.

Inflamed pelvis – this is when the womb (and sometimes the ovaries or fallopian tube) become infected with bacteria. This very often comes after an STI infection such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia and will need to be treated with antibiotics.

Peritonitis – the peritoneum is the tissue layer on the inside of the abdomen, and this can sometimes become inflamed, requiring immediate pain relief and treatment.

Urinary tract infection – this is when different parts of your urinary tract (such as the bladder, kidneys, or urethra) become infected by bacteria. Symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating or stronger-smelling urine than usual. A course of antibiotics will be prescribed by your GP.

In addition to acute pelvic pain, there can also be recurrent or ‘chronic pelvic pain’, which lasts for a long time and occurs very persistently. This can sometimes be the more serious of the two kinds of pelvic pain, and if you experience this kind of discomfort it might be time to consider consulting your gynaecologist. Chronic pelvic pain is by no means a guarantee of serious gynaecological problems (it can be caused by other things, such as inflammatory bowel disease, for example), but it can sometimes mean one of the following:

Fibroids – these are non-cancerous but sometimes painful tumours that affect the womb and will need to be removed with surgery.

Womb prolapse – this is when the womb ‘slips’ or falls lower down the pelvis, and symptoms can include feeling a bulge in the vagina or experiencing a ‘dragging’ sensation.

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms, be sure to seek your GP’s guidance immediately. They will give you a preliminary investigation, and if necessary, they will refer you to a gynaecologist for further treatment.