Pelvic Conditions and Pain | OB-GYN


Pelvic Conditions and Pain

Pelvic discomfort can bring challenges to your life that may be difficult to talk about. But specialists at UC Davis Health understand and have the expertise to help you feel better.

Medically reviewed by Clara Paik, M.D. on Nov. 12, 2023.

Close-up of a woman on a couch hunched over with her hand on her lower stomach in pain

What Are Pelvic Conditions and Pelvic Pain?

Pelvic conditions and pain are issues affecting organs such as your bladder, rectum, ovaries and uterus. Some cause organs to slide out of their natural position or not function as expected. Common symptoms include going to the bathroom frequently and constant pressure that can make it difficult to have sex. But it doesn’t always have to be this way.

At UC Davis Health, gynecologists with advanced training in gynecologic pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (urogynecologists) guide your care. Our services include sophisticated tests and treatments that quiet nagging symptoms so you can move forward with your life.


Symptoms of Pelvic Conditions and Pelvic Pain

Pelvic conditions can affect your well-being in many ways. Some issues, like pelvic inflammatory disease, have no symptoms in early stages. Others, like pelvic floor dysfunction, can cause worrisome symptoms like bladder and bowel leaks.

Pelvic condition symptoms may include:

  • Ache in your lower back
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Difficulty emptying your bowels and bladder; or incontinence (accidents)
  • Heavy sensation in your pelvis
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic pain lasting three to six months that may include a dull or burning sensation
  • Vaginal discharge that may be an unusual color or smell bad

Causes of Pelvic Discomfort and Pain

Constant pressure on your pelvis or tissue inflammation and damage can cause some pelvic conditions.

Pregnancy and Vaginal Delivery

Carrying a baby in your womb stresses delicate tissue in your pelvic floor. And vaginal delivery can result in strains, tears and other damage to this area.

Pelvic Surgery

Even with successful surgery, scar tissue can develop, restricting movement and function.

Unprotected Sex

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can spread to multiple organs in your pelvis.


Risk Factors for Pelvic Discomfort

There are some factors that can increase the chances of pelvic discomfort and pain, including:


The risk of certain pelvic conditions and pain increases as you get older. Some issues, like urinary frequency and pelvic pain, are common during menopause.

Increased Intra-Abdominal Pressure

A physically demanding job or hobby can strain your pelvis, especially if it involves heavy lifting.

Other Medical Issues

Having obesity, a chronic cough or frequent constipation can shift abdominal organs downward, putting stress on your pelvis.


Diagnosing Pelvic Conditions and Pain

Evaluations for pelvic discomfort start by discussing your symptoms and their impact on your life. The idea of talking about these things can be uncomfortable. But there’s no reason to feel embarrassed. UC Davis Health gynecologists and urogynecologists are easy to talk to and respect your privacy.

In many cases, standard testing with a pelvic exam or blood draw is all that’s necessary. For complex conditions, you may need a 3D transvaginal ultrasound, which captures images from inside your vagina. You also have access to urodynamic testing, a sophisticated imaging study that assesses how the body stores and releases urine.

Pelvic Discomfort Treatments at UC Davis Health

We carefully consider a variety of options before making personalized recommendations. Observation may be appropriate for mild conditions if there is a chance symptoms will improve on their own. When treatment is necessary, you can feel confident you are receiving the best available care.

UC Davis Health specialists regularly treat the many causes of pelvic pain using research-based care methods. You may benefit from the services of gynecologists, urogynecologists, pain management doctors, physical therapists and psychologists. We coordinate the therapies you need enabling you to achieve outstanding results.


We may recommend anticholinergics (for bladder issues), antibiotics, oral contraceptives, Botox® injections or stool softeners.

Vaginal Pessary

This soft device goes inside your vagina and supports your uterus, bladder or rectum. It holds pelvic organs in place and may reduce urinary incontinence.

Pain Medicine

Pelvic pain can be complex and doesn’t always respond to medications. Our pain medicine specialists are here for you with a range of therapies, including nerve blocks, acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Pelvic Floor Therapy

Physical therapists with special training in pelvic floor dysfunction use a variety of methods to treat it. Care may include stretching or strengthening muscles and relaxation techniques.


Our experts often treat pelvic conditions using minimally invasive gynecologic robotic surgery. Procedures we offer include sacrocolpopexy to repair pelvic organ prolapse, spinal cord stimulator implant procedures for pain and hysterectomy.


Preventing Pelvic Conditions and Pain

You can prevent some pelvic conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, by having safe sex. For other causes of pelvic discomfort, there are steps you can take to prevent symptoms from worsening. These include maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding constipation by limiting calorie-dense, processed foods.

How common is pelvic pain?

1 in 7Women experience it

By the time they reach their 80s

50%Of women have some form of pelvis organ prolapse

Sources: NIH National Library of Medicine: Chronic Pelvic Pain

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: 5 Things I Wish All Women Knew About Pelvic Organ Prolapse

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