The complexity of chronic pelvic pain can be baffling. A variety of health issues such as endometriosis, bladder pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) , pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, or uterine leiomyoma can account for the severe pain some 20 percent of women experience because of this condition. Defined as persistent pain between the belly button and pubic bone, that lasts for longer than six months, chronic pelvic pain most commonly strikes women. 

Input from tissues of your reproductive system, bowels, bladder, peritoneal lining (of the inside of your abdomen), interact with your prior surgical history and environmental stress in making your pain processing system report chronic pelvic pain. Typically, chronic pelvic pain goes beyond the usual discomfort of having periodic menstrual cramps. Pain that can’t be managed by over-the-counter medications or that is negatively affecting life, work and/or physical activities for several days during the month should be checked out by a qualified specialist.


Chronic pelvic pain can range from dull and aching to sudden and sharp. Common symptoms may include:

  • Cramping (becomes severe during your periods)
  • Pressure in the pelvis
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain during urination or bowel movements
  • Changes in mood, such as depression

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your NorthShore specialist will ask about your medical history, review prior records, conduct a thorough pelvic exam and may order an ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the specific reason for your chronic pelvic discomfort. Since infections can sometime cause symptoms, your physician may also swab for a small sample of cells from your cervix and vagina for testing much like undergoing a routine Pap smear. A minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure may be recommended to take a sample (biopsy) of tissue to better zero in on the causes of your condition.

Just as there are many causes of chronic pelvic pain, there are many treatment strategies. At the Center for Pelvic Health, our surgeons offer a number of solutions for those suffering from pain caused by endometriosis. For some women, muscular damage or imbalance following pregnancy or irritation of connective tissue around pelvic nerves (including the pudendal nerve) can serve as the source of chronic pelvic pain. When compressed or entrapped, pelvic nerves may continually trigger awareness of the organs or pelvic tissues. Our specialists offer several advanced treatment options, including nonsurgical, minimally invasive ultrasound guided nerve block and trigger point injection therapies to relieve pain.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.926.6544