Pain in the pelvic area is a symptom of many different health conditions. It can be chronic (long-term) or acute (short-term). Here, we explain the possible reasons why pelvic pain may occur and further symptoms to look out for.

Pelvic pain affects the lowest part of the abdomen – the area between the belly button and groin.

Chronic pelvic pain, which lasts for 6 months or more, affects 1 in 6 women. This pain may range from mild to moderate or even severe and may either be continuous or come and go. Acute pelvic pain, on the other hand, describes a pain which comes on suddenly for the first time.

In this blog, we explore 7 of the most common causes of pelvic pain, other than the menstrual cycle or pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Some STIs, such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, can cause pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. While STIs often do not cause noticeable symptoms, other symptoms of an STI include:

  • Unusual discharge from the vagina or anus
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal bleeding or itching
  • Redness near the vagina.

Treating STIs as early as possible is important to prevent further health complications.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Also known as PID, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a bacterial infection of the female reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries). Often caused by STIs such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea, PID can result in infertility. Early detection and treatment are important in order to prevent scarring, which cannot be treated.

In addition to pelvic pain, symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease include:

  • Abnormal and/or heavy vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Fever.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a long-term condition which affects the digestive system, causing:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation.

These symptoms are related to passing a bowel movement. Most people can control the symptoms of their IBS through managing diet, lifestyle and stress – all of which can cause ‘flare-ups’.

Drawing of a woman with her hands on stomach.


Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling that which grows in the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can cause pelvic pain which usually worsens during your period.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Heavy bleeding during your period
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating or excreting during your period
  • Feeling sick during your period
  • Constipation or diarrhoea during your period
  • Difficulty getting pregnant.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an acute infection which develops anywhere in the urinary system, including the kidneys, urethra or bladder. If the infection is located in the bladder, it can lead to cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

In addition to lower abdomen pain, symptoms of a UTI include:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently than usual, including at night time
  • Needing to urinate suddenly
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Cloudy urine.

Ovarian cyst

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops in or on an ovary. In most cases, the cyst will disappear naturally within a few months, without any need for treatment.

Symptoms of an ovarian cyst, such as pelvic pain, are not usually present unless the cyst is very large in size, ruptures, or blocks the blood supply to the ovaries.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain during sex
  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Bloating or swelling of stomach
  • Change in periods (heavier, lighter or irregular)
  • Difficulty emptying bowels
  • Becoming full quickly after eating very little.


Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It causes pain across the abdominal area which moves to the lower right-hand side and becomes progressively worse.

The acute infection is likely to appear quickly and suddenly, and may also be accompanied by:

  • Painful coughing or sneezing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever.

What to do if you have pelvic pain

If you are concerned about pelvic pain, you should speak to a health professional. Better2Know can arrange private and confidential consultations across the UK, or you can contact your own GP. Your doctor will discuss potential causes and recommend suitable testing or treatment options.

If you are experiencing pelvic pain and have not recently had a comprehensive STI test, you should consider getting tested for a full range of STIs as soon as possible. With Better2Know, you can get tested at a clinic near you, with a private nurse visit, or you can order a convenient home test kit.

Speak to our highly trained sexual health advisors in confidence today by phone or live chat. Our dedicated team is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you gain peace of mind surrounding your sexual health.


[1] NHS: Pelvic Pain

[2] Medical News Today: What causes pelvic pain in women?

[3] Mayo Clinic: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

[4] Mayo Clinic: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

[5] NHS: Endometriosis

[6] NHS: Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

[7] NHS: Ovarian cyst

[8] Medical News Today: Appendicitis

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