Gynecological Pain You Should Never Ignore
Whenever it comes to pelvic pain, it is better to be safe than sorry. Ignoring signs and symptoms only makes them worse. If your body is in pain, you should figure out the cause and deal with the underlying issue. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the following symptoms warrant a trip to your doctor. Women should pay close attention to any of these 3 potentially serious, gynecological-related pain issues.
1. Pelvic Pain and Abdominal Discomfort
It’s important to tell your gynecologist what kind of pain you’re having. Does it come on suddenly or is it constant? This will help the doctor make a proper diagnosis. Sharp pelvic pain may be a warning sign that you have an infection, a ruptured ovarian cyst, or a dangerous ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy growing outside the uterus). More constant pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen is suggestive of uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors.
Another potential source of regular pelvic pain is endometriosis, a common condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the organ. Endometriosis starts with pain during the menstrual cycle but may progress to become an ‘all the time’ pain as endometrial cells grow outside the uterus. The endometrial tissue bleeds during menstruation and can cause terrible pelvic pain. There is no cure for endometriosis, but one option is birth control pills, especially a brand called Seasonale, which limits menstrual periods to four times a year. Another choice is a drug to lower estrogen levels and can slow the growth of endometriosis. Your treatment will depend on how bad the pain is and whether you plan on getting pregnant. In addition to causing pelvic pain, the condition can lead to trouble having a baby.
2. Painful Periods and Unusual Bleeding
Occasional spotting between periods shouldn’t set off any alarm bells. But when the bleeding lasts for days or is heavy and painful, it’s time to call your gynecologist. This could be a sign of an injury to the vagina, a miscarriage, or even cancer of the cervix or uterus, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is also important to check in with your doctor if you have stopped having periods due to menopause, but have begun bleeding again. This could be a sign of uterine cancer. It’s important to know what’s normal for you. When something is suddenly abnormal, it is time to call the doctor. Uterine fibroids, an infection, or a thyroid problem could be to blame. Irregular or infrequent periods can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome or a hormone imbalance problem. A missed period could be a sign that you are pregnant, or that there is another medical condition requiring attention.
3. Painful Intercourse or Urination
One of life’s greatest pleasures shouldn’t be painful. Pain during sex can be felt as deep pelvic pain or soreness in your genital area. Common causes are vaginal dryness, infections, or uterine fibroids, according to the NIH. Your gynecologist will likely perform a pelvic exam and tests to find out what’s wrong. Urinary incontinence or difficulty moving your bowels can be symptoms of pelvic floor problems. That’s when the tissues that support the pelvic organs become damaged or weakened, often due to childbirth. If the muscles are weak, your gynecologist may suggest special pelvic exercises, called kegels, to strengthen the area. But if there’s a tear, your gynecologist will suggest other treatment options.
Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of keeping the vagina clean and healthy. The thickness of discharge changes at different times of the month, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. If you notice a yellow, green, or gray discharge that has a bad odor, it’s time to see your gynecologist. Changes in discharge as well as itching and burning around your vagina could indicate some type of vaginitis. Two major culprits are yeast and bacterial infections, which can be treated with medication.
Call a doctor for immediate care if you have sudden, severe pelvic pain, with or without vaginal bleeding.
- Your periods have changed from relatively pain-free to painful.
- Pain interferes with your daily activities.
- You start to have pain during intercourse.
- You have painful urination, blood in your urine, or an inability to control the flow of urine.
- You have blood in your stool or a significant, unexplained change in your bowel movements.
- You notice any new pelvic symptoms.
- You haven’t yet seen a doctor about your chronic pelvic pain.
What is normal?
Always pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, your gynecologist can evaluate the problem and provide treatment to help you get back to feeling your best as soon as possible.