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Chronic Pelvic Pain: Care Instructions

Female pelvic organs


Pelvic pain is pain below the belly button. Chronic pelvic pain means you've had this pain for at least 6 months. The pain can range from a mild ache that comes and goes to a steady pain that makes it hard to sleep, work, or enjoy life.

It can be hard to know what causes this pain. You may need some tests to find the cause. Some common causes include problems with your reproductive system and diseases of the urinary tract or bowel. Sometimes the pain may be related to past or current physical or sexual abuse. But doctors can't always find the cause. This does not mean the pain isn't real or that it's "in your head." It is real pain, and you need to treat it.

If your doctor finds the cause of the pain, you treat the cause. For example, if the cause is hormonal, you might need to take birth control pills. But if the tests don't show a cause, you can take steps to help with the pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you have back pain, lie down and elevate your legs by placing a pillow under your knees. When lying on your side, bring your knees up to your chest.
  • Put a warm water bottle, a heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth on your belly. Or take a warm bath. Don't go to sleep with a heating pad on your skin.
  • Relax. Try meditation, yoga exercises, or breathing.
  • Exercise regularly. It improves blood flow and reduces pain.
  • Keep a diary. Track your symptoms, menstrual cycle, sexual activity, and physical activity. Track stressful events or illnesses. This can help your doctor find the cause or treat it.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your pain gets worse.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.