Trying to describe pain to someone is never easy. It's kind of like trying to describe the sound of a flute to someone who was born deaf. This can be particularly difficult when describing pelvic pain because it can be so hard to even know exactly where the pain is coming from.
Thus, it's not surprising that a survey from the Endometriosis Association found a 10-year delay from the time women start experiencing symptoms until they receive a diagnosis.
That's a long time to live in pain.
Pelvic pain is inextricably linked to endometriosis—a medical condition in which tissue lining the uterus exists outside the uterus, where it grows and shrinks according to hormonal changes. An estimated 71 to 87 percent of women with chronic pelvic pain have endometriosis, which occurs in 7 to 10 percent of all women. And, contrary to what many health care professionals think, the condition can be quite common in adolescents and is often behind their chronic pelvic pain.
Chronic pelvic pain may occur during menstruation, intercourse, when having a bowel movement, or simply exist all the time. In some women, the pain exists along with other painful conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, kidney stones, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia and migraine headaches.
One important thing to realize: Your pain is not normal, and you deserve a diagnosis and treatment. Simply receiving a diagnosis and realizing that the cause of your pain is not cancer can help relieve anxiety and, believe it or not, sometimes even the pain itself!
If you are experiencing chronic or even acute pelvic pain, your first stop should be your health care provider, whether a physician, midwife, or nurse practitioner. Be honest and clear about your pain, and be as specific as possible. A good idea is to track your pain in a monthly diary, ranking the level of pain from 1 to 5, with 5 being so excruciating you can't function and 1 being the level of mild menstrual cramps. Also note anything you were doing that might be related to the pain. For instance, did the pain occur during or after intercourse? After eating a large meal? During menstruation?