Helpful Q&A from Westmed’s Rachele Khadjehturian (NP), from the Westmed Urology Dept.
Q: What are some of the main causes of pelvic pain?
A: Pelvic pain can be caused by stress, injury or illness. Previous trauma including traumatic labor/birth, sexual assault and abuse can also lead to pelvic pain. All of these issues can be worked on and overcome with enough desire and focus. You do not have to live this way. This does not have to be your forever reality. This is just where you are right now. With help, you can overcome it.
Q: Are older women more likely to have pelvic issues than younger women?
A: Some women get pelvic issues when they are older, but age is not the only cause of pelvic issues. Pain with sex (dyspareunia), burning urination (dysuria), discomfort of the vulva when wearing tight pants (vulvodynia), pinching pain in pelvis when sitting on a bicycle seat (possible pudendal nerve entrapment), are all issues that are not necessarily related to age or gender for that matter. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) can cause dysuria, dryness can cause dyspareunia as well as dysuria as can side effects from medications. Back or pelvic injury can cause vulvodynia in women and scrotal discomfort in men. Stress and anxiety can cause any or all of the above issues as well. When the body is stressed, people tend to hold that stress in different places. Some hold it in their neck and shoulders manifesting in headaches, some in their pelvis manifesting in pelvic pain.
Q: Can teenagers, who are not sexually active, have pelvic problems?
A: Sex is one of, but not the only cause of pelvic issues. Lower back injury, pinched nerves and pelvic injury caused by falling on the center bar of a bicycle, a balance beam, or a branch when climbing a tree can cause pelvic issues. Over-exercising is another thing that can bring on pelvic pain and even cause young women to have irregular periods. This in itself can cause intense amounts of stress. Stress is another cause of pelvic pain and teens are certainly not immune to stress.
Q: Do men get pelvic pain?
A: Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP) can occur in men and women. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with it because of yearly OB/GYN visits and more likely to talk openly about pelvic issues with their friends and primary care physicians. If men were more open speaking about issues regarding their health, especially issues involving their pelvic area, they might receive more timely help for these issues.
Q: Are there different ways to combat CPP for men and women?
A: Most of the approaches are the same. Learning to de-stress and relax is of utmost importance. Releasing the muscles of the pelvis and allowing spasms to dissipate will help the pain and discomfort of CPP, but it won’t happen overnight. It likely took a while to get to where you are now, so it will likely take a while to get everything to relax and release. Biofeedback training, pelvic yoga and pelvic physical therapy are three of the least invasive ways to tackle the issues associated with CPP. Then medications – oral and trigger point injections – can be tried. There are also nerve blocks for men and women who fail these therapies.
If it’s bothersome, it is best to have your pelvic pain evaluated by a Westmed Urology health professional.