When to Worry About Pelvic Pain

When to Worry About Pelvic Pain

See your doctor if your pain changes or if it interferes with your daily life
Read Time: 5 minutes
Dec 18, 2021

It can be difficult to know when pain is normal and when it’s a sign that you should go to the doctor right away. This is especially true if you experience chronic pain. Pelvic pain by itself typically isn’t life-threatening. However, sometimes, pain can be a sign of a life-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention. Look for these signs that your pelvic pain is something to worry about.

The Pain Interferes With Daily Life

If your pelvic pain is interfering with your daily life, it’s time to see a doctor. This is true whether the pain is sharp or an ache and whether it’s chronic or life-threatening. You should be able to go about normal activities without pain interfering. Your doctor can help you to figure out what is causing the pain and treat the cause.

The Pain Worsens

If you normally don’t experience pelvic pain and suddenly do, or if you have chronic pain that worsens, it’s important to see a doctor about it. Changes for the worse in the amount of pelvic pain you’re experiencing are something that your doctor should know about. A condition could have developed or worsened.

What Types of Pelvic Pain Are There?

Pelvic pain can come in many forms. It’s important to be able to accurately describe your pelvic pain to your doctor so that they can better diagnose and treat you. Pelvic pain can come in the form of:

  • Severe pain
  • Sharp pain
  • Steady pain
  • Intermittent pain
  • Cramping
  • Dull ache
  • Pressure
  • A feeling of heaviness

The different types of pelvic pain are not mutually exclusive. You may be experiencing more than one at the same time. Be sure to inform your doctor of all types of pain you’re experiencing. It’s also important to note when the pain occurs, such as when sitting for long periods of time, during intercourse, or while urinating or having a bowel movement.

What Can Cause Pelvic Pain?

Woman pressing on abdomen in pain

Some pelvic pain is completely normal, such as cramping during periods. This sort of pelvic pain is nothing to worry about, although you may want some pain management techniques or medication, depending on how severe the cramping is. There are other, more serious conditions that can cause pelvic pain, however, some of which may even be life-threatening.

The following are some common causes of pelvic pain. If you’re experiencing any kind of pelvic pain, it’s important to consult your doctor so that you can learn what it is. Even period cramping can be eased if it’s severe, even if it is considered normal.


Endometriosis is a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. It can result in painful cysts and scar tissue.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants within the fallopian tube or somewhere else outside of the uterus. This is not a viable pregnancy and, if left untreated, can cause the fallopian tube to rupture, which can be life-threatening.


Appendicitis is the inflammation and swelling of the appendix. Its symptoms include a sharp pain in the lower right of the abdomen, usually accompanied by fever or vomiting. If appendicitis isn’t treated in time, the appendix can rupture, which is life-threatening.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A UTI is an infection within the urinary tract, most commonly experienced by women. The infection most often is located in the bladder or the urethra, but it’s possible for a more serious infection to also affect the kidney. A UTI can cause pelvic pain as well as painful urination and is typically treated with antibiotics.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

It isn’t known exactly what causes IBS, but abdominal pain and cramps, along with bloating and constipation, are common symptoms. It’s typically managed with changes to diet, medications, and stress management.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease is commonly caused by STDs. It’s characterized by abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, painful intercourse, painful urination, and fever. It’s the leading preventable cause of infertility in women. For that reason, it’s vital to treat it right away with antibiotics.

Ovarian Cysts

Cysts can occur on the ovaries if the follicle doesn’t properly open to release the egg or if it fills with fluid after opening. Most cysts are benign and go away over time of their own accord. Some, however, can be painful, causing pelvic pain, swelling, bloating, and pelvic pressure. A cyst can sometimes burst, which requires emergency treatment.

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids in the uterus are typically benign and are common in women who are in their 30s and 40s. They can cause lower back pain and a feeling of pressure in the pelvic region, as well as difficulty conceiving. A doctor can advise you if you need to have fibroids shrunk or removed.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.

Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC


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