The pelvis is a group of bones between your hips. These bones surround lower belly organs, such as the bladder and bowels, and female organs such as the uterus (womb) and ovaries. Pain in these organs is felt in the pelvic area and is sometimes called pelvic pain. Pelvic pain is common in women but can be very serious.
Pelvic pain can be mild or severe and can make your pelvic area feel tender
The pain may come on suddenly and may be constant or come and go
Many women get cramps right before or during their monthly period, which is normal
See a doctor right away if you feel sudden, intense pelvic pain—it can be a sign of a serious problem
What causes pelvic pain?
The most common cause of pelvic pain is:
Cramps from having your monthly period (menstrual cramps)
You may also have cramps between periods, when your body releases an egg (called ovulating).
The most dangerous causes of pelvic pain include:
Appendicitis Appendicitis Your appendix is a small finger-shaped hollow tube on the end of your large intestine. Appendicitis is an inflammation that causes your appendix to swell and become infected. Appendicitis is... read more —an infection in your appendix, a small organ located between your small and large intestines
Ruptured ectopic pregnancy Ectopic Pregnancy An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg attaches in the wrong place, such as in the fallopian tubes An ectopic pregnancy does not result in a baby being born If not diagnosed and treated... read more —a pregnancy in the wrong place, such as in your fallopian tubes, which connect your ovaries to your uterus (womb)
A twisted ovary
Bleeding or tearing in a blood vessel or organ
If you have one of these causes, doctors may need to do surgery.
Other causes of pelvic pain include:
Problems with your ovaries—such as a cyst on an ovary
Problems with your fallopian tubes—such as an infection in them
Problems with your large bowel—such as constipation Constipation in Adults Constipation is difficult or infrequent bowel movements, hard stool, or a feeling that the rectum is not totally empty after a bowel movement (incomplete evacuation). (See also Constipation... read more , gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis is inflammation of your stomach and intestines. Gastroenteritis is usually caused by an infection with a virus or bacteria You feel very sick to your stomach, throw up, and have... read more , or diverticulitis Diverticulitis Your intestine is the long tube in your digestive system that digests food and absorbs nutrients. You have a large intestine and a small intestine. Your large intestine (colon) connects your... read more
Cancer of various organs
When should I see a doctor for pelvic pain?
See a doctor right away if you have pelvic pain and any of these warning signs:
Dizziness, fainting, or shock (a dangerously low drop in blood pressure)
Fever or chills
Sudden, intense pain, especially if you're also feeling sick to your stomach, throwing up, and sweating a lot
See a doctor the same day if you've never had pelvic pain before and the pain is constant and getting worse.
See a doctor the same day or within a few days if you have pelvic pain plus vaginal bleeding Vaginal Bleeding Vaginal bleeding is when you pass blood from your vagina (birth canal). Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Vaginal bleeding is normal during your monthly period. Your period usually starts every... read more after you’ve stopped having your monthly period (menopause Menopause Menopause is when women stop having periods (stop menstruating) and can no longer get pregnant. Menopause usually happens after age 40. In the United States, the average age for menopause is... read more ).
If you keep having pelvic pain but have no other signs, see a doctor when you can, but a delay of several days is usually not harmful.
What will happen when I go to the doctor for pelvic pain?
Doctors will ask you questions about your pain and do an exam. You may also have some tests:
Tests on your urine to tell if you’re pregnant or if you have a UTI (urinary tract infection Bladder Infection Your bladder is the hollow organ that holds urine until you're ready to urinate (pee). A bladder infection is usually caused by bacteria. Bladder infections are also called cystitis. Bladder... read more )
An ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more , a CT (computed tomography) scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more , or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more (tests that show pictures of the inside of your pelvic area)
If you have very bad or lasting pain and other tests don’t show what's causing it, you may need a surgical procedure called laparoscopy. With this procedure, doctors give you medicine to put you to sleep (anesthesia). Doctors then make a small cut just below your belly button and insert a viewing tube to see what the problem is.
How do doctors treat pelvic pain?
Doctors treat the cause of your pelvic pain, if they can. They may give you pain medicine to make you feel better until they figure out what's causing your pain. But it's important for the doctors to see what's causing your pain and not just cover up the pain with medicine.