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Pelvic Pain – Your Mother Was Wrong

by Leah Goodson-Gerami, DO, FACOOG

woman with painful period

Adrian came to my office this morning for a GYN visit. She is one of hundreds of women who visit our office every year looking for relief from pelvic pain.

Adrian’s story is also common. “Period pain is a normal part of being a woman,” Adrian’s mother told her when she reached adolescence and the pain first began. Adrian believed it.

Adrian shared her story with Dr. Goodson-Gerami, known as Dr. G-G.

Dr. G-G recalls, “Throughout her teens Adrians experienced intense monthly pain around her pelvic area. When she entered her twenties, she missed work for a day or two every month because the pain was so bad. She didn’t make a big deal about it because she truly believed her pain was “normal.”

Pelvic Pain is Not “Normal”

Adrian recently visited Cherokee Women’s Health after moving to the area. Like most women, she had formed a bond with her former OB, and the switch was hard. But not every GYN focuses on treating pelvic pain, and Adrian’s OB had been no exception. Pelvic pain is a complicated condition which can arise not just from the reproductive organs, but from the urinary tract or bowel as well. A woman might have more than one condition, each with a different cause.

Causes of Pelvic Pain Include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pelvic support problems
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Factors such as past trauma or sexual abuse

Describing Your Pain is Key To Successful Treatment

Part of successful treatment is answering questions, which help your GYN understand your health history:

  • When and where does the pain happen?
  • How long does the pain last?
  • Is the pain related to your menstrual cycle, urination or sexual activity?
  • What does the pain feel like (sharp or dull)?
  • What were the circumstances when the pain began?

A history of sexual abuse can also lead to symptoms of pelvic pain, whether from actual physical damage or simply emotional trauma.

Tools For Diagnosing Pelvic Pain

  • Blood test
  • Pregnancy test
  • Urinalysis
  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • MRI non-invasive procedure
  • Laparoscopy

Potential Treatments for Pelvic Pain

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory and/or pain medicines
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy

In Adrian’s case, I diagnosed a longtime history of endometriosis. Adrian seemed genuinely surprised at the range of treatment options available for her, and chose to try birth control pills as a first step. This week Adrian returned for follow-up, happy to report that the “normal” pain she had lived with all her life was gone! When she left the office, we were both smiling.

If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, help is available. Call our office at 770.720.7733 to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Goodson-Gerami (known to her patients as “Dr. G-G” ) recently joined the Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists team. She has practiced medicine since 2014 and is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.