Figuring out what's causing your chronic pelvic pain often involves a process of elimination because many different disorders can cause pelvic pain.
In addition to a detailed interview about your pain, your personal health history and your family history, your doctor may ask you to keep a journal of your pain and other symptoms.
Tests or exams your doctor might suggest include:
- Pelvic exam. This can reveal signs of infection, abnormal growths or tense pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor checks for areas of tenderness. Let your doctor know if you feel any discomfort during this exam, especially if the pain is similar to the pain you've been experiencing.
- Lab tests. During the pelvic exam, your doctor may order labs to check for infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Your doctor may also order bloodwork to check your blood cell counts and urinalysis to check for a urinary tract infection.
- Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce precise images of structures within your body. This procedure is especially useful for detecting masses or cysts in the ovaries, uterus or fallopian tubes.
- Other imaging tests. Your doctor may recommend abdominal X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help detect abnormal structures or growths.
- Laparoscopy. During this surgical procedure, your doctor makes a small incision in your abdomen and inserts a thin tube attached to a small camera (laparoscope). The laparoscope allows your doctor to view your pelvic organs and check for abnormal tissues or signs of infection. This procedure is especially useful in detecting endometriosis and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.
Finding the underlying cause of chronic pelvic pain can be a long process, and in some cases, a clear explanation may never be found.
With patience and open communication, however, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan that helps you live a full life with minimal discomfort.