Diagnosis and Treatment of Pelvic Pain

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Diagnosis and Treatment of Pelvic Pain

Due to the large number of possible causes of pelvic pain, diagnosis begins by process of elimination. Your physician may order several types of tests to diagnose the problem. It may seem tedious and time-consuming; however, this approach is the best way for your provider to determine the cause of your pelvic pain. Some of the tests that your physician may order include ultrasound imaging, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), intravenous pyelography (IVP), and barium enema.
However these tests cannot detect endometriosis or adhesions and laparoscopy may be necessary to diagnose the cause of your pelvic pain.

What type of treatment you receive depends on the diagnosis. Treatments can vary from medications for urinary tract infections (UTI) or vaginal infections to pharmacologic treatment in the hospital for serious infections such as PID. If a sexually transmitted disease is diagnosed, your partner will also need to be treated to prevent reinfection.

Menstrual cramps can often be relieved with drugs that reduce inflammation, such as ibuprofen which blocks the production of prostaglandins that cause the uterus to contract. Sometimes the diagnosis will require the use of hormonal therapies including oral contraceptives and other types of hormones. Antidepressants are helpful for some women because they help break the cycle of pain and depression that often occurs in women with chronic pelvic pain.

Surgery may be the answer for certain types of pelvic pain. What type of surgery depends on the diagnosis. Surgery such as laparoscopy can be done on an outpatient basis, while other surgeries such as hysterectomy require a stay in the hospital. Your healthcare provider will discuss your options based on your diagnosis, as well as the risks and benefits of these procedures and the chance of them working.

Hysterectomy is not always the best treatment, especially in the case of chronic pelvic pain.

Other treatments include heat therapy, muscle relaxants, nerve blocks, and relaxation exercises. If digestive or urinary conditions are diagnosed specific treatments for these conditions will be used.

Determining the cause of pelvic pain can be a frustrating situation for many women, but try not to give up. Even when one specific cause for chronic pelvic pain is not found your healthcare provider has treatments that can help. Maintaining an open working relationship with you physician is the best way to find the treatment that works best for you.


Pelvic Pain. Healthywomen.org. http://www.healthywomen.org/healthtopics/pelvicpain. Accessed 08/24/2009.

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