Oakland Macomb Obstetrics & Gynecology P.C

Harmless vs. Serious Causes of Pelvic Pain

Nov 15, 2023

Experiencing pelvic pain is your body telling you that something's not quite right. But not all pelvic pain means you should panic. Sometimes it's just a part of natural bodily processes; in others, it may indicate a severe condition that needs immediate intervention. 

If you're experiencing severe medical pain, Oakland Macomb Obstetrics & Gynecology in Rochester Hills, Lenox, and Troy, Michigan, is your go-to destination.

How can you tell the difference, and when should you act? In this article, our team of experts sheds light on both harmless and severe causes of pelvic pain, helping you determine when to seek medical advice. 

Harmless causes of pelvic pain

In most cases, the cause of your pelvic pain is harmless. 

Menstrual cramps

Most women are no strangers to menstrual cramps. These cramps often start a day or two before your period and may last two to four days. The pain ranges from dull and annoying to severe and debilitating. 

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication is usually sufficient for treatment. But if regular OTC medication doesn't ease your pain, consult us for alternative solutions like hormonal birth control.

Ovulation pain

Ovulation pain occurs midway through your menstrual cycle and can last anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours. The discomfort is generally mild, and you may feel it on either the left or right side of your lower abdomen. 

Pain relievers like ibuprofen can often manage the discomfort. If the pain persists, consult us for evaluation and potential ultrasound imaging.

Gastrointestinal causes

Don't jump to conclusions too quickly when experiencing pelvic pain. Sometimes the cause is as simple as constipation or trapped gas. These conditions might mimic pelvic pain, and you can usually relieve the discomfort with a change in your diet or mild medication. 

In rare cases, persistent issues may indicate an underlying gastrointestinal condition that requires medical evaluation.

Severe causes of pelvic pain

If any of the following conditions causes your pelvic pain, you likely require medical intervention, sometimes immediately.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. Typical symptoms include sharp pelvic pain, often accompanied by abdominal discomfort, vaginal bleeding, and shoulder pain. 

If you suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy, head to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. This condition can cause life-threatening internal bleeding if left untreated.

Ovarian cysts

Generally, ovarian cysts are benign and resolve without treatment. But if a cyst becomes too large, ruptures, or causes an ovary to twist, you need immediate medical intervention. 

The pain in these instances can be sharp and sudden, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Treatment options range from pain management to surgery, depending on the severity.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is an infection of your reproductive organs, usually the result of sexually transmitted bacteria. Symptoms include persistent pelvic pain, high fever, and an unusual discharge. PID can lead to severe complications like infertility if not promptly treated with antibiotics.


While endometriosis is not immediately life-threatening, it can lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility. The condition causes uterine tissue to grow outside your uterus, which can result in severe discomfort, especially during your period. 

Treatment generally involves hormonal therapies and, in extreme cases, surgery.

Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic pain

To diagnose your pelvic pain, we typically begin with a physical exam and a look at your clinical history. We may also recommend imaging studies like ultrasound or CT scans.

We tailor a treatment plan just for you based on our findings. It may include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery for severe conditions.

If you're experiencing persistent or intense pelvic discomfort, the best course of action is to consult one of our experts for diagnosis and treatment. Schedule a consultation by making an appointment with us online or calling one of our offices. We’re located in Rochester Hills, Lenox, and Troy, Michigan.