What Could Cause Pain In Lower Abdomen For Women
‘Lots of reasons,’ was the answer Dr Derek Chan, a NHS and Private Gastroenterologist and lead in Nutrition at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals NHS Trust, gave us.
But don’t despair, to work out what could be causing pain in your lower abdomen, with the help of Dr Chan, WH has broken it down to three possible causes: digestive, urinary and reproductive issues.
What Are Stomach Cramps
If you have ever had a sudden, hysterical, tight feeling in the stomach muscles then most probably you would have had stomach cramps. Stomach cramp is unbearable pain in the stomach and surrounding region of the body which at times may hurt. Both men and women can get it but women have specific and exclusive reasons that men dont have such as child stomach cramps at night.
The majority of these cramps arent serious and dont require any diagnosis. However, if they happen often and last more than a day then it is an uncommon sign and you should visit your doctor.
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Risk factors for food allergies include having asthma or at least one other allergy and having a family history of asthma, eczema, or allergies. Allergic reactions to foods may be prevented by avoiding contact with foods youre allergic to and informing servers at restaurants about your allergies.
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What Causes Period Pain
If you experience chronic painful periods, its only natural to wonder why. Maybe youre the only woman in your family who gets severe cramps. Maybe your painful periods didnt start until your twenties. Whatever your situation, a doctor can help you understand why you get painful cramps every month. Some of the most common causes of painful periods are:
What Are Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are throbbing, aching cramps you get in your lower belly just before and during your period. Theyâre some of the most common, annoying parts of your period. They can strike right before or during that time of the month. Many women get them routinely.
Cramps can range from mild to severe. They usually happen for the first time a year or two after a girl first gets their period. With age, they usually become less painful and may stop entirely after you have your first baby.
Your doctor may call your cramps dysmenorrhea.
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How Is Dysmenorrhea Diagnosed
To diagnose dysmenorrhea, your health care provider will evaluate your medical history and do a complete physical and pelvic exam. Other tests may include:
Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
Laparoscopy. This minor procedure uses a laparoscope. This is a thin tube with a lens and a light. It is inserted into an incision in the abdominal wall. Using the laparoscope to see into the pelvic and abdomen area, the doctor can often detect abnormal growths.
Hysteroscopy. This is the visual exam of the canal of the cervix and the inside of the uterus. It uses a viewing instrument inserted through the vagina.
Ovarian And Uterine Cancers
Cancer of the ovary or uterus can cause abdominal cramps. Your risk for these cancers increases in your 50s and beyond. Cramps alone arent reason to assume you have cancer. Women who have cancer usually have other symptoms along with cramps, such as:
- vaginal bleeding
- unexplained weight loss
Any worrisome symptoms warrant a visit to your doctor just to make sure theyre not due to something serious.
You may be more likely to get one of the conditions that causes cramps after menopause if you:
- took estrogen for menopause symptoms
- have a family history of ovarian or uterine cancer
- got your first period before age 12
- started menopause after age 52
- used an IUD to prevent pregnancy
Think about whether you have any of these risk factors. Then, discuss them with your doctor.
What Should You Do About Pelvic Pain
Firstly, women should seek an appointment with their GP for an initial evaluation and assessment of their condition, especially if the pain has been present for three to six months and has become chronic, or if it is affecting her ability to carry out normal daily activities, says Dr Hemlata.
Judy Birch, co-founder of the Pelvic Pain Support Network, says that it’s difficult to cope with any recurring pain. “Treatments vary and will be individual, based on the condition and severity. It may involve medication, surgery, physiotherapy, nerve blocks, psychology, self-management, coping strategies and combinations of any of these at various points in time.”
She suggests keeping a simple visual diary of when the pain occurs, how long it occurs for and what relieves it, if anything. “Take this with you when you see a doctor if you’re having difficulty getting a diagnosis or managing and coping with the pain. And ask about investigations, such as an ultrasound, and even to be referred to a specialist,” she explains.
Cystitis Or Urinary Tract Infections
Cystitis refers to inflammation in the bladder due to a bacterial infection. This happens because vaginal, rectal, or skin bacteria can enter the urethra and make their way to the bladder.
A urinary tract infection is one that can occur anywhere in the system, while cystitis occurs only in the bladder.
Both conditions are common in women. These infections will sometimes clear up on their own, but a short course of antibiotics will typically treat cystitis and other UTIs.
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How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
The cause of abdominal pain can be diagnosed through a series of tests. Before ordering tests, your doctor will do a physical examination. This includes gently pressing on various areas of your abdomen to check for tenderness and swelling.
This information, combined with the severity of the pain and its location within the abdomen, will help your doctor determine which tests to order.
Imaging tests, such as MRI scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays, are used to view organs, tissues, and other structures in the abdomen in detail. These tests can help diagnose tumors, fractures, ruptures, and inflammation.
Other tests include:
Blood, urine, and stool samples may also be collected to look for evidence of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections.
Not all forms of abdominal pain are preventable. However, you can minimize the risk of developing abdominal pain by doing the following:
- Eat a healthy diet.
Essentials For Older Women
In older women, common causes of pelvic pain may be different because some disorders that cause pelvic pain become more common as women age, particularly after menopause. Obviously, disorders related to menstrual periods are no longer possible causes.
Common disorders in older women include
Bladder problems, including infections
Many cancers of the reproductive tract, including cancers of the lining of the uterus , fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina
After menopause, estrogen levels decrease, weakening many tissues, including bone, muscles , and tissues around the vagina and urethra. As a result, fractures and bladder infections become more common.
Also, this weakening may contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause symptoms as women become older. In these disorders, weakened or damaged tissues in the pelvis can no longer hold the uterus, vagina, or other organs in the pelvis in place. As a result, one or more of these organs may drop down .
Older women are more likely to take drugs that can cause painful constipation.
In older women, the lining of the vagina thins and dries after menopause. This condition may make sexual intercourse painful, and women may describe or experience this pain as pelvic pain.
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Diagnosing Cramps With No Period
Always call a doctor if you have cramps that wonât go away, whether or not you have your period.
Your doctor will want to know if your pain is sudden or ongoing. The more details you can give, the faster they may be able to diagnose and treat you. Youâll be asked questions about your symptoms and your periods.
Your doctor may do tests or procedures to learn the cause of your cramps. If your doctor suspects it is related to your uterus, or ovaries, common tests are:
Laparoscopy, a type of exploratory surgery to look at the structures inside your pelvic area, including your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Your doctor may refer you to someone who specialize in stomach or intestinal disorders or a urologist if they suspect that cramps are caused by any of those areas .
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Pelvic Pain.”
Glencoe Regional Health Services: “Possible causes of ovarian pain.”
St. Luke’s Health System: “Ruptured Ovarian Cyst.”
Kruszka, P.S. American Family Physician, July 15, 2010.
KidsHealth: “Pregnancy Calendar: Week 4.”
KidsHealth: “Pregnancy Calendar: Week 5.”
WomensHealth.gov: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Fact Sheet.”
Center for Young Women’s Health: “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.”
Christiana Care Health System: “Pelvic-Floor Muscle Dysfunction.”
UpToDate: âPatient information: Chronic pelvic pain in women .
UpToDate: Patient information: Irritable bowel syndrome .â
American Cancer Society: âWhat Is Ovarian Cancer?â
Other Characteristics Of Severe Abdominal Pain
Also, pay attention to the quality and location of the pain. Your pain may be localized and limited to one area of the abdomen. It may be intermittent, or colicky, which is a term that describes the pain that is sudden and feels like a severe muscle spasm. The pain can also feel like cramps or a tightening sensation in your stomach.
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Causes Of Lower Abdominal Cramping
Lower Left Side Pain
The abdominal organs found in the lower left abdomen include a portion of the descending colon , part of the small intestine, the spleen, the lower portion of the left kidney, the left ureter, ovary and fallopian tube, the urinary bladder and all the nerves, blood vessels muscles and skin in the left lower quadrant.
An abnormal condition in any of these organs may result in abdominal cramping in the left lower side, including:
- Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
- Intestinal obstruction
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ruptured spleen
Lower Right Side Pain
The organs found in the right lower side of the abdomen include the appendix, the ascending colon, part of the large intestine, the right ovary and fallopian tube, parts of the small intestine, the lower portion of the right kidney and the ureter. Pain in the right lower quadrant may be caused by:
- Mesenteric lymphadenitis
- Colon cancer
- Uterine disorders, such as myoma or endometriosis
- Intestinal obstruction
Other Causes of Lower Abdominal Cramps
- Trapped wind in the gut
- Strenuous exercise causing muscle pain
- Psoas abscess
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Evaluation Of Pelvic Pain
When a woman has new, sudden, very severe pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, doctors must quickly decide whether emergency surgery is required. Disorders that usually require emergency surgery include
The following tests are routinely done:
A urine pregnancy test if women are of childbearing age
Urinalysis is a simple, fast urine test that can rule out many common causes of pelvic disorders such as a bladder infection or most kidney stones.
The same urine sample can be used for a pregnancy test. If a very early pregnancy is possible and the urine test is negative, a blood test for pregnancy is done. The blood test is more accurate than the urine test when a pregnancy is less than 5 weeks.
If a urine pregnancy test indicates that the woman is pregnant, ultrasonography is done to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. For ultrasonography, doctors use a handheld ultrasound device that is placed on the abdomen or inside the vagina.. Ultrasonography of the pelvis is done for many reasons. It is whenever doctors think a gynecologic disorder may be the cause of the symptoms and the symptoms have begun suddenly, recur, or are severe.
Tests depend on which disorders are suspected. Tests may include
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Alternative Treatments For Stomach Cramps
Probiotics are one of the main alternative treatments for overall digestive health. These healthy bacteria are present in yogurt and fermented foods, such as kimchi. Supplements are also available. Using to replace and replenish the bacterial flora in your digestive tract may help reduce gas, bloating and cramping.
What Do Cramps A Week Before Period Mean
We often get asked, why do I have cramps a week before my period? And what do cramps a week before period mean?
Two main reasons answer the queries of uncomfortable cramping prior to feeling cramps 5 days before period or more. However, please note that you should book an appointment with us to make sure you do not have any underlying conditions. One of our medical professionals can help you decide the best course of treatment.
Here are some of the reasons you could have cramping before your period begins:
Due to changing hormone levels, sometimes your body misjudges the quantity of hormones to produce and overproduces certain ones. The two main hormones your body produces during menstruation are estrogen and progesterone.
If your body overproduces estrogen or progesterone, your uterus will contract, causing the cramps we all despise. If you have premenstrual syndrome , the body prepares for your period by releasing hormones early and causing cramps a week before.
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Counseling And Stress Relief
Many people who seek care for IBS also have anxiety, panic, or depression. Stress is also an issue for people with IBS because it can make the symptoms worse. Research shows that psychological therapy can help ease IBS symptoms. Therapies that can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , a short-term treatment that mixes different types of therapies and behavioral strategies. The type of CBT used to treat IBS may focus on managing life stress. Or, it may focus on changing how a person responds to anxiety about IBS symptoms.
- Dynamic psychotherapy, an intensive, short-term form of talk therapy. It may focus on in-depth discussions about the link between symptoms and emotions. The therapy may also help people identify and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
- Hypnotherapy, where people enter an altered state of consciousness. Visual suggestions are made to imagine pain going away, for example.
General stress relief is also important. Exercising regularly is a good way to relieve stress. It also helps the bowel function better and improves overall health. Meditation, yoga, and massage may also help.
Menopause And Stomach Cramps: Things To Ponder
Menopause is a transition stage in a woman\s life when she stops menstruating for over 12 months continuously. When menopause sets in, the ovaries stop production of eggs, resulting in irregular menstrual activity that eventually ceases. Other hormonal changes occur and symptoms like stomach cramps, pain in the leg, irritability, mood swings, hot flashes and decrease in bone density accompany menopause.
Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 55, and is a natural event in every woman\s life. It comes with its own string of health issues, be they physical or emotional, and can be a particularly trying time for those who suffer side effects of menopausal symptoms. They are just ways in which our body reacts to the decrease in production of female hormones.
Menopause and Stomach Cramps: Symptoms
Some women may experience few symptoms, while others complain of mild to severe ones. However, the reassuring part is that the variation is normal. Women experiencing pelvic pain or cramps during menopause may recall suffering the same right before or during their menstrual periods and this may have a link to their hormonal cycle.
A common phenomenon during menstruation, this pelvic pain is termed as dysmenorrhea. However, if these stomach cramps occur during menopause and are severe enough to interfere with daily activities, then the cause may be an underlying condition and should be checked by a doctor.
Menopause and Stomach Cramps: Treatments
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Miscellaneous Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Women:
There may be a lot of unrelated conditions causing abdominal pain. For instance, herpes zoster may impact the skin and the underlying nerves of several areas of the body, which may also include the abdomen. Again, a slipped disk can compress the abdominal nerves and cause abdominal pain, especially on the left side of the abdomen in the womenâs body.
This article talked about some of the causes of abdominal pain in women. In case you are suffering from any such pain and doubt about your condition then do visit an expert medical professional and get yourself properly diagnosed and go for the prescribed treatments. Women need immediate medical attention in case of any signs of internal bleeding, such as bloody or tarry stools or if they vomit anything that appears to be bloody or looks life coffee grounds. Abdominal pain along with high fever or chills may also be the result of a serious infection, which requires immediate medical attention.