Pelvic pain can be a frustrating and often debilitating condition that affects people of all ages and genders. It can impact every aspect of daily life, from work and exercise to intimacy and social interactions. Unfortunately, many people who experience pelvic pain suffer in silence, either because they’re embarrassed to talk about it or because they don’t know where to turn for help.
But there is hope. Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a form of physiotherapy that may be incredibly useful for addressing pelvic pain and related issues. By working with a skilled pelvic floor physiotherapist, you may learn how to properly manage your symptoms, improve your pelvic health, and regain control over your daily life.
This article explores what pelvic pain is, what causes it, and why pelvic pain may appear at night. For personalised advice, contact our team at Glen Eira Physiotherapy today.
What Is Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is any type of pain felt in the pelvis and surrounding areas. It’s a fairly common cause of pain among Australians, affecting up to one in five women and one in 12 men throughout the country.
For those with organs associated with people assigned female at birth, pelvic pain may impact the:
- Uterus (womb)
- Fallopian tubes
The pain itself may be due to the organs themselves or the skin, muscles, or nerves surrounding them. Depending on the cause and location of the pain, it may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain, a dull ache, or anything in between. If pelvic pain lasts for six months or more and is present for most days of the month, this is known as chronic pelvic pain or persistent pelvic pain.
What Can Cause Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain may be due to many different reasons. Determining the cause may be difficult, especially for those assigned female at birth, as this type of pain tends to be downplayed both by doctors and people who experience it. Having the right information and knowing who to turn to may be particularly helpful in determining the cause of your pelvic pain and finding a way to manage it.
Causes for pelvic pain include:
1. Period pain
For people who get periods, it’s fairly common to experience pain before, during, and/or after your period (though the research to find an exact number or percentage varies). In many cases, period pain tends to be a cramping pain due to the uterus contracting and tightening. If you find that period pain doesn’t improve with pain medication or hormonal contraception like the Pill, or if it is so severe it impacts your daily functioning, it’s recommended that you see your GP to determine if there is anything adding to your pain.
Some people who experience period pain may have a condition called endometriosis, where the cells similar to those that line the uterus grow in other parts of the body, such as the bowel, bladder, and ovaries. Since these cells can’t escape like with a period, they accumulate and often result in pain. This is often felt before or during your period, during or after sex, and when you urinate or open your bowels.
3. Pelvic muscle pain
Pelvic muscle pain may feel like an ongoing period cramp, regardless of whether or not you’re on your period. You may also have pain during intercourse or difficulty using tampons. Pelvic muscle pain may be felt anywhere in the pelvic area, including the vagina or rectum.
4. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
UTIs are a common cause of pelvic pain, but shouldn’t be left untreated. If you experience symptoms— such as burning when you urinate or lower abdominal pain— for over 24 hours and have additional symptoms such as fever, nausea, or vomiting, you should seek medical attention immediately. This is because UTIs may develop into kidney infections and lead to possible further complications.
5. Digestive system issues
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a fairly common cause of pelvic pain and can affect people of all gender identities. Other digestive system issues that may contribute to pelvic pain include Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis. These issues may cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which in turn may lead to pain.
Why Do I Get Pelvic Pain At Night?
Whether you experience pelvic pain during the day only or during the day and night, you know how unpleasant it can be. If your pelvic pain only occurs at night, however, you may be wondering why. Possible reasons may include:
1. Pelvic floor muscle conditions
If you have a tight pelvic floor, this is known as a hypertonic pelvic floor. Hypertonic pain is most often felt at night because this is when your body is typically at its most relaxed. You may be unconsciously clenching your pelvic floor muscles throughout the day and not have any awareness of it at all, only noticing that your pelvis aches when you go to bed.
2. Pregnancy-related pelvic pain
When you’re pregnant, your ligaments are constantly stretching and loosening in order to make room for your growing baby. Meanwhile, your fluctuating hormones are causing a lot of changes, including loosening the pelvic area to prepare for giving birth. When this happens, your pelvic floor muscles need to work extra hard to hold everything in place. Much like with pelvic floor muscle conditions, you may be too busy during the day to notice the discomfort these changes may cause and, therefore, only notice them at night.
3. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is an infection of the reproductive organs that may or may not be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It typically causes an ache in the lower abdomen as well as discharge, vaginal bleeding, fever, and difficulty urinating.
Whether your pelvic pain is mostly at night, during the day, or unpredictable, if it is an ongoing problem, you should see your doctor for an evaluation.
How May Physiotherapy Help With Pelvic Pain?
Many people utilise physiotherapy for help with their pelvic pain. Pelvic floor physiotherapists, in particular, are skilled and knowledgeable in this area and may be able to help by providing:
- Manual therapy
- Pilates classes
- Bladder training
- Lifestyle advice
- Pelvic floor training
- Stretching and relaxation techniques
- Pain management strategies
Your pelvic floor physiotherapist will work with you to determine which forms of physiotherapy may be best for you and your pelvic pain.
Visit Us At Our Pelvic Pain Clinic In Melbourne
Pelvic pain may be reasonably common, but that doesn’t mean you need to accept it and deal with it as part of daily life. If your pelvic pain is impacting you negatively in any way, it’s time to act now!
At Glen Eira Physiotherapy, we operate a pelvic pain clinic here in Melbourne that aims to address the cause and symptoms of your pelvic pain, helping you to reduce it wherever possible and get back to living your life on your terms. If you’re interested in visiting us at our pelvic pain clinic or to see us for pelvic floor physiotherapy, book online today.