The defining characteristic of the female pelvis, the lowest portion of the torso, is its design to hold and grow a baby, and then allow the baby to pass through and out of the birth canal. As a result, structure of the female pelvis is different from a male’s. In general, it is broader and wider, to allow for pregnancy and childbirth. Further, the female pelvis has a few unique characteristics not shared by the male pelvis, and as a result, women can experience pelvic pain our male counterparts do not.
The following are three pelvic problems that can lead to pelvic pain in women:
The female pelvis accommodates the reproductive organs – the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries – as well as a network of muscles and ligaments that supports them. In general, the health of these support networks, referred to as the pelvic floor, determines the overall well-being of a woman’s pelvis. As such, some of the most common pelvic problems women experience have to do with the strengths and weaknesses of this network of muscles and ligaments.
These pelvic floor disorders, so called because all parts of the pelvic floor are often involved, are unique to women and common in those who have given birth vaginally. Pelvic floor disorders also become more common with more births. When the pelvic floor can no longer support the weight of these organs, they can collapse and press down onto the vagina, often forming a bulge that protrudes through the vagina itself.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID, is an infection of the pelvis that may or may not begin as a sexually transmitted infection. Eventually, it can affect the entire female reproductive system. If left unchecked, PID can cause pelvic pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and severe blood infections. Currently, the condition affects about 1 million women nationwide.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining commonly grown in the uterus also grows on the outside of the other pelvic organs. It is a common source of pelvic pain, typically felt during a bowel movement or while menstruating. Endometriosis can also cause infertility or increased difficulty getting pregnant.
Although most minor pelvic pain is likely a result of normal menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy, it is still a good idea to find the source of any pain. If you are experiencing pelvic pain, see a physician who can help you determine its cause. Our team at Women’s Medical Associates of Nashville is here to help – contact us for an appointment at your convenience.