Pelvic and abdominal pain can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, and early evaluation is essential for avoiding complications. Northwest Women’s Center uses state-of-the-art techniques to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain in women from Houston, TX, as well as advanced treatment options to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
Abdominal Pain Q & A
There are many gynecologic issues and conditions that can cause pelvic and abdominal pain. Some of the most common include:
- endometriosis, a condition that causes the tissue that lines the uterus (the endometrium) to grow outside the uterus, often on the outer wall of the organ
- large ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids
- ectopic pregnancy
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that can affect any part of the reproductive system and spread from one area or organ to another
- IUD-related problems, including irritation or “erosions” to the uterine lining
- pelvic organ prolapse, a condition that occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken and allow one of the pelvic organs to descend into the vagina
- vulvodynia, a condition that causes pain around the vagina
- infections, including sexually transmitted infections
Ovulation and menstruation are also common causes of abdominal pain, and even though these processes are normal, if they cause significant discomfort, they should be evaluated by a gynecologist.
Pelvic exams can provide a wealth of information about the cause of abdominal pain and pelvic discomfort. Blood tests, urine tests, and other lab tests may also be ordered, along with ultrasounds and other diagnostic imaging studies. Exams of the interior of the uterus and the fallopian tubes can also be performed using special instruments equipped with tiny cameras that transmit images to a monitor where the doctor can view them.
A hysteroscopy is a minimally-invasive exam that uses a very thin, flexible scope inserted through the vagina and the cervix (the uterine opening) to evaluate the uterus and the fallopian tubes. Hysteroscopy can play an important role in diagnosing many causes of pelvic and abdominal pain, and it can also be used to perform some procedures using instruments designed to be used through the scope without the need for incisions. Uterine fibroids, endometriosis and abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) often can be successfully treated with hysteroscopy, and the procedure can be performed with a mild sedative or a local anesthetic to prevent discomfort.