Clinic Corner: Pelvic pain
Welcome to Clinic Corner, where our team addresses concerns and issues we hear about from our patients. While you may not recognize the terms vulvodynia and vaginismus, you may be all-too-familiar with what they describe: pelvic pain.
“Pelvic pain is a common patient complaint at Clinic Sofia. Some women have dealt with pelvic pain for so long that they feel like it’s ‘normal” when so much can be done to diagnose and treat the pain,” said Dr. Jewelia Wagner, who notes that pelvic pain can be broken up into various compartments, such as deep versus superficial, right/left/midline/total pelvis, and vaginal versus vulvar.
Vulvodynia is the medical term for chronic pelvic pain without an identifiable cause; patients often complain of a burning sensation in the vulva. When patients with vulvodynia are touched with a Q-tip, they perceive it as sharp pain.
Vaginismus, on the other hand, is involuntary muscle contraction of the pelvic floor and difficulty allowing vaginal penetration, despite willingness to do so. Getting to the root cause of pain starts with a solid medical history and physical exam, which can cover the duration, location and severity of the pain, timing of pain to provide clues on the aggravating factors and what factors increase pain, such as exercise.
In addition, kidney stones and itching can both present as types of pelvic pain, but have other associations. “If you have repetitive, persistent or worsening pelvic pain, please see a doctor. Pain shouldn’t disrupt your life and daily function,” added Dr. Wagner.
Treatment for pelvic pain can include medication, physical therapy or surgery to decrease pain or address the specific issue.