Endometriosis, a condition that may affect women during their child-bearing years, occurs when a type of tissue that lines the uterus begins to grow outside of it. Although not usually dangerous, it can cause pain and other problems.
Pelvic Pain is often described as persistent or chronic if it lasts longer than 3-6 months. In many situations, when the original "injury" heals, the pain gradually decreases. However, in some cases, when the original "injury" or condition that caused the pain has healed, the pain continues because the body's alarm system has become hyper-sensitive. When this happens, many sensations that are normally pain-free, such as stretching, are painful. This process is referred to as "central sensitization". This can apply to pain anywhere in the body, including the pelvic area.
Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome can result when the pain has lasted for a long time and has become more severe than would be expected. As the woman tries to cope with the pain, she may undergo emotional and behavioural changes that may affect her relationships, mood, sleep patterns, appetite, and physical activity. In other words, chronic pelvic pain syndrome is a combination of physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and changes in behaviour.
There are several conditions that can lead to pelvic pain, including:
- Endometriosis: a condition in which endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the cavity of the uterus) develops in various locations within the pelvic cavity such as the internal lining of the pelvis (peritoneum), the ovaries, the ligaments or smooth muscle, or the uterine muscle (adenomyosis).
- Disorders of the bowel such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome.
- Previous abdominal surgery or infection that has resulted in adhesions.
- Musculoskeletal/myofascial pain (pain that arises from bones, joints, or muscles in the abdomen or pelvic floor).