Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women: What you should know

Have you heard of pelvic neuropathy?

Most people associate neuropathy with numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or feet. This is because neuropathy typically affects the hands and feet. However, it can affect other areas of the body, including the pelvic and groin region.

It can occur in women and men.

Neuropathy, sometimes called peripheral neuropathy, is a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (called peripheral nerves) or from a malfunctioning nervous system.

It can be painful and debilitating.

Pelvic neuropathy is also referred to as chronic pelvic pain, pelvic nerve pain, pelvic nerve damage, “bicycle seat neuropathy”, “cyclist’s syndrome”, pudendal neuralgia, and more.

It’s a condition that causes pain, discomfort, or numbness in your pelvis or genitals. It happens when a major nerve in the lower body is damaged or irritated, and it can be hard to use the bathroom, have sex, or sit down.

It can cause weakness, pain, numbness, burning sensations, stabbing, or electric shock sensations. The pain comes and goes.

Worldwide, it’s estimated that between 14% to 32% of women in childbearing age suffer from pelvic neuropathy. In the United States, it’s estimated that 15% of women, in the same age group, report pelvic neuropathy lasting at least 6 months. 2

These numbers are likely to be much higher because often pelvic neuropathy is misdiagnosed as a different condition, especially in women.

Unfortunately, women face greater abdominal and pelvic injury that will likely cause neuropathic pain. Estimates of chronic pain following a cesarean or vaginal delivery range from 10–20%. Neuropathic pain from gynecological procedures may be associated with a 5–32% risk %.3

Pelvic neuropathy is often due to damage to one of these four nerves

  • Pudendal nerve
  • Iliohypogastric nerve
  • Ilioinguinal nerve
  • Genito-femoral nerve

Pelvic Nerve Damage Symptoms

  • Pain when sitting
  • Radiating pain in the pelvic region including sex organs
  • Pain in perineum region (think: midway between genitals and buttocks)
  • Pain that radiates in the abdomen to mid to low back
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain when urinating or having a bowel movement

Common causes of pelvic neuropathy

  • Diabetic neuropathy (about 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy)
  • Excessive compression, like prolonged sitting or bicycling
  • Excessive stretching during a surgical procedure
  • Cuts or nicks during an abdominal surgery

Treatment

Treatments depend on many factors such as the type of nerve damage, symptoms, location and pain. If your doctor is able to identify the underlying cause of your pelvic neuropathy, your nerve(s) may be able to recover and regenerate. With corrective measures, some people may be able to reduce their medication intake or manage their neuropathy without medications altogether.

Alternative treaments have been indicated as possible treatments for neuropathy, including acupuncture and massage. Additionally, significant research shows cannabidiol oil (aka CBD) may be a possible treatment. Speak with your doctor about the best treatment for you.

A randomized study, published in 2020 of the Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Journal, describes significant improvement in pain and improvement in disturbing sensations in patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy.

If you’re experiencing chronic pelvic pain or any of the pelvic nerve damage symptoms listed above, please speak with your doctor to identify the underlying cause.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicpain/conditioninfo/howmany
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/chronic-pelvic-nerve-pain-2564568
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3205239/

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