What are the Different Causes of Acute Pelvic Pain?

Sarah Sullins

Acute pelvic pain — especially that which begins suddenly and grows in a short amount of time — is often the body’s way of telling a person that something in the area of the pelvis is wrong. Some of the causes of acute pelvic pain may be an ovarian cyst, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), acute appendicitis, sexual abuse, diverticulitus, or trauma — such as a perforation to the bowel or bladder. In pregnant women, pelvic pain may indicate an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, a ruptured uterus, or be a sign of preterm labor. Different types of infections may cause pelvic pain as well.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can cause acute pelvic pain.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can cause acute pelvic pain.

Several of the causes of pain in the pelvic region can be life-threatening. Ectopic pregnancies are those in which an egg is fertilized in an area other than the uterus, typically in the fallopian tubes. If a woman who is experiencing this type of pregnancy does not see a doctor quickly, her tubes may burst and cause bleeding within her abdomen. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed due to a blocked opening. If the appendix is not treated, it may rupture, allowing bacteria to enter the abdominal cavity, and possibly the bloodstream.

Diverticulitus is one cause of acute pelvic pain.
Diverticulitus is one cause of acute pelvic pain.

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Ovarian cysts can be painful for some women. Most of the time, the cysts located on a woman’s ovaries will not be noticed because they are small, but, if the cysts become larger, a woman is likely to experience acute pelvic pain. A woman may also experience pain if the cyst ruptures and bleeds into the abdomen.

Pelvic inflammatory disease may cause acute pelvic pain.
Pelvic inflammatory disease may cause acute pelvic pain.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that occurs in the female reproductive organs. Acute pelvic pain, back pain, pain when urinating, and pain while having sex are some of the symptoms of this disorder. Endometritis is similar to PID, and is generally considered a variation of this disease, but it mainly deals with inflammation in the uterine lining. Many times, these problems arise because of STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include sudden, acute pelvic pain.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include sudden, acute pelvic pain.

Although many pelvic pain issues revolve around the reproductive organs, a person may also feel this type of pain when experiencing bladder, bowel, or kidney problems. The acute pelvic pain generally indicates a bigger problem within that region of the body, and should not be ignored. Each of the causes of this type of pain typically requires medical attention, and sometimes the need for medical care is urgent.

Appendicitis can cause acute pelvic pain.
Appendicitis can cause acute pelvic pain.
An X-ray of the pelvis.
An X-ray of the pelvis.
Acute pelvic pain during pregnancy may be a sign of preterm labor.
Acute pelvic pain during pregnancy may be a sign of preterm labor.
The appendix becoming inflamed due to a blocked opening can cause acute pelvic pain.
The appendix becoming inflamed due to a blocked opening can cause acute pelvic pain.
Ovarian cysts are a common reason for acute pelvic pain.
Ovarian cysts are a common reason for acute pelvic pain.
A tubal pregnancy may cause acute pelvic pain.
A tubal pregnancy may cause acute pelvic pain.

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