As a woman, you may sometimes find yourself suffering from a great deal of pelvic pain. Unfortunately for many women, doctors and other medical professionals tend to simply assume that women's pelvic discomfort is caused by menstrual cramps that will pass and that are an inevitable part of being a woman. However, there are many different possible causes for pelvic discomfort that women can experience. It is important to get to know some of these health issues and conditions so you can be sure that you are getting the best possible treatment and care for your pelvic pain.


PCOS is an acronym for a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is a chronic health condition that can cause numerous symptoms, including pelvic pain or discomfort, particularly during sexual intercourse or around the time of menstruation. PCOS is characterized by multiple cysts on one or both ovaries, as well as irregular or absent menstruation, and/or high levels of androgens (male hormones like testosterone) in the body. Other symptoms can include facial or body hair, moodiness, fatigue, and depression or anxiety.

While PCOS is a chronic and incurable condition, it can be managed, and your pelvic pain and discomfort can be reduced through medical treatment. This management can include taking oral hormonal birth control pills as well as androgen antagonists to reduce androgen levels in the body and better regulate the balance of the hormones in your body. Diagnosis of this condition requires blood tests as well as ultrasounds to determine hormone levels and the condition of the ovaries.

Interstitial Cystitis

Alternatively, pelvic pain does not necessarily need to stem from the reproductive organs. The bladder can also cause pelvic pain, as in the case of interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that can cause pain that ranges from mild to severe. It also makes a person feel as if they need to urinate frequently even though only a small amount of urine may be in the bladder.

While this condition can affect both men and women, women are more prone to it. Interstitial cystitis may flare up or be triggered by hormonal shifts as well as by menstruation, which is one of the reasons it can sometimes be overlooked as a symptom of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or menstruation in general. This condition also has many of the same symptoms as urinary tract infections including pain or discomfort when the bladder is full or has any urine in it, as well as pain during intercourse. However, diagnostic testing for UTIs can rule out infection and point to interstitial cystitis.

There are numerous other diagnostic tests that can help distinguish interstitial cystitis from other conditions as well. Tests for potassium sensitivity can point to this condition if you react strongly to added potassium in your body. A cystoscopy may also be performed to allow your doctor to get a good, clear view of the bladder to rule out other conditions such as bladder cancer. Treatment for interstitial cystitis can include prescription oral medications, medications inserted in the bladder, and even surgery. For more information on interstitial cystitis, contact a medical facility like the Western Branch Center for Women.

With these possible causes of your pelvic pain in mind, you can be sure that you are advocating on your behalf with your doctors if you are certain that the discomfort you are feeling is not, in fact, menstrual cramps.