What are the symptoms of pelvic pain?

Although pain is the core symptom of pelvic pain, the specifics of that pain and other symptoms vary from woman to woman. Pelvic pain can be severe enough that it interferes with normal activities, such as going to work, exercising, or having sex.

Women describe pelvic pain in many ways. Pelvic pain can be steady, or it can come and go. It can be a sharp and stabbing pain felt in a specific spot, or a dull pain that is spread out. Some women have pain that occurs only during their menstrual periods. Some women feel pain when they need to use the bathroom, and some feel pain when lifting something heavy. Some women have pain in the vulva (the external genitals), which is called vulvodynia (pronounced vuhl-voe-DIN-ee-yuh), during sex or when inserting a tampon.1,2


  1. International Pelvic Pain Society. (2008). Pelvic pain assessment form. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://pelvicpain.org/IPPS/Professional/Documents-Forms/IPPS/Content/Professional/Documents_and_Forms.aspx?hkey=2597ab99-df83-40ee-89cd-7bd384efed19 external link (PDF 224 KB)
  2. UCSF Medical Center. (n.d.). Pelvic pain. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/pelvic_pain external link
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