Many Reproductive-Age Women Experience Pelvic Pain

Findings suggest that even during routine visits, doctors should ask women about pelvic pain

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Untreated pelvic pain is common among U.S. women in their childbearing years, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in Human Reproduction.

The researchers surveyed 473 women, aged 18 to 44, at 14 surgical centers in Salt Lake City and San Francisco who were scheduled to undergo medical imaging or surgery for reasons such as infertility, menstrual irregularities, tubal sterilization, or pelvic pain. About 40 percent of the women were diagnosed with endometriosis. Thirty-one percent of the women were diagnosed with other conditions, such as uterine fibroids, pelvic adhesions, benign ovarian cysts, neoplasms, and congenital Müllerian anomalies. Nearly 29 percent of the women were not diagnosed with any pelvic condition.

As expected, those with endometriosis were most likely to report pain (44 percent). However, high levels of ongoing pain or recurrent pain during the menstrual cycle were reported by one-third of women without any diagnosed pelvic conditions. The study authors called for further research on the causes of pain in women not diagnosed with any pelvic condition.

"Our study suggests that many reproductive-age women are experiencing but not reporting some form of pelvic pain," study author Karen Schliep, Ph.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md., said in an institute news release. "If they aren't doing so already, gynecologists may want to ask their patients if they're experiencing pain, as well as the type and precise location of the pain, and offer treatment as appropriate."

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