Pelvic pain is experienced mostly in the lower abdomen area; below your bellybutton. It could be a constant pain, or sudden pain, sharp and stabbing in a particular spot. The pain can be mild.

If the pain is severe, you may have to visit your doctor. Most often women may be referred to a gynaecologist as they are more prone to this condition than men.

As a woman, you might feel pain during your period or when having sexual intercourse. This could indicate a problem with your pelvic organs like the ovaries, vagina, cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes.

Pelvic pain can be sudden and unexpected. It can also be long-term. This information is aimed at giving you a better understanding of the cause of pelvic pain. It is advised that you do not use it as a tool to self-diagnose but rather guide you towards working out a good treatment plan with your GP.

Sudden, Unexpected Pelvic Pain

Acute pelvic pain is one that for the first time occurs without warning. Urgent medical attention should be sought to diagnose and treat it properly.


For women that aren’t pregnant, they may have pelvic pain from these common conditions:

  • Appendicitis

This condition is defined by a painful swelling of the appendix (a finger-like pouch linked to the large intestine). It causes pain on the tummy.

  • Peritonitis

Inflammation of the thin layer of tissue lining the inside of the abdomen—peritoneum that causes unanticipated pain which with time becomes more severe and needs quick medical attention.

  • An ovarian cyst

This causes pelvic pain when a fluid-filled sac (follicle) developed on an ovary is twisted or burst.

  • Acute Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

A bacterial infection caused by STIs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. It infects the womb, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.

  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

An infection of the urinary tract associated with a burning sensation when you pee plus frequent urination

  • Bowel Spasm or Constipation

This triggers pelvic pain when there’s an irritable bowel syndrome, change in diet or medication, or a rare case of bowel obstruction


These do not play a major role in causing pelvic pain, but they do contribute in some ways. They are:

  • Pelvic Abscess – a collection of pus between the vagina and womb.
  • Endometriosis – this one happens when the endometrium (lining of the womb) is not properly aligned inside the womb but is rather found outside, on the ovaries. It brings about painful periods.


This type of pelvic pain can last up to six months and above. It comes and goes. It’s also known as chronic pelvic pain; causing more severe pain and lasts longer. 1 in 6 women can be infected.

Chronic pelvic pain requires medical treatment after a proper diagnosis.

Some of its common causes may include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome—a digestive system condition causing bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.

Chronic pelvic pain also has its less common causes. They include the following:

  • Recurring urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Recurring ovarian cysts
  • Adenomyosis – endometriosis that grows into the wall of the uterus resulting in lower abdominal pressure and heavy periods
  • Fibroids – tumours growing in or around the womb that is non-cancerous but painful if they twist or deteriorate. Uncomplicated fibroids do not cause pain.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – This describes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; two chronic diseases that affect the guts
  • Chronic Interstitial Cystitis—a long term inflammation of the bladder
  • Hernia – a condition where a weakness in the tissue wall or surrounding muscle is pushed by an internal body part
  • trapped or damaged nerves in the pelvic area – causing sharp, aching or stabbing pain in a specific spot, which worsens with certain movement


  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain during ovulation
  • Cramps before or during your period
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Painful urination
  • Rectal bleeding during period
  • Infertility
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever or chills


To check out the cause of pelvic pain, you may have to explain to your doctor, your symptoms and past medical problems. A physical exam will take place, and other tests recommended to ascertain the underlying cause of your pain. The tests may include:

  • Pregnancy tests in sexually active women
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Abdominal and pelvic X-rays
  • Vaginal or penile cultures to diagnose common STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia
  • Bone density screening (special kind of x-ray to check bone strength)
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy – to look at the pelvis and abdomen
  • Hysteroscopy – to examine the uterus
  • Stool test – to check for microscopic blood
  • Lower endoscopy – an examination of the inside of the rectum and parts or all of the colon
  • Ultrasound scan
  • CT scan of the pelvis and abdomen


Pelvic pain can be managed with over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen. Other do-at-home exercises are:

  • Placing a heating pad on the pelvis
  • Performing light and gentle exercise or stretching
  • Resting with the legs elevated, which promotes blood flow to the pelvis.

These exercises may not provide a long-lasting solution to your pelvic pain, and so the best thing to do is to get checked out and properly treated.

Report your pelvic pain to a doctor.


Pelvic pain is treated based on the cause, the severity of the pain, and the frequency of the pain. Different women experience varying forms of pain.

Medications, including antibiotics, can sometimes be used to treat pelvic pain. If the pain is as a result of problems with one of the pelvic organs, surgical treatment or other procedures can be recommended.

Your doctor can provide information about the available kinds of treatment.