Some 4 percent to 24 percent of women 18-50 years old reported persistent pain in their lower abdomen or pelvis within the last three months, according to a study published in January 2017 in the journal Pain Management. The pain often goes beyond physical discomfort. Women with pelvic pain may also experience depression, painful intercourse, and have a lower quality of life. If you are living with chronic pelvic pain, the following may help you move beyond the pain into a better quality of life.
1. Get educated
According to many, including the European Journal of Pain, education can help chronic pain. This in no way implies that the pain is not real, rather learning more about the condition can help you move forward with activities you may have avoided due to fear. The International Pelvic Pain Society may be a good place to find more information for your condition.
2. Find a physical activity you can do
Physical activity can help chronic pain sufferers in multiple ways. Depression, weight gain, and social isolation are just a few of the side effects that can be improved with exercise. A professional trainer will be able to help get you move without further injury.
3. Be prepared to get better
When I suffered with chronic back pain, the best advice ever given to me was by a physical therapist. He said, “Don’t be surprised to wake up one day and the pain be gone.” At first, I did not understand the advice and may have even been insulted by it. But over time, I found that instead of expecting pain every day, I was also expecting to feel better soon. That seemed to make a difference in my outlook and eventually, the pain did get better.
4. Talk to someone who understands
Group therapy can significantly improve coping skills related to chronic pain. However, group therapy is not comfortable for everyone. Reaching out to someone who has been through what you are experiencing can be helpful to you and can also be beneficial to her. Your doctor can also refer you to a therapist who you can talk to in a private setting.
5. Seek medical treatment
Even though talking to your doctor about pelvic pain can be uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating, it is still a necessity. According to researchers, there is significant evidence that chronic pain, no matter the reason, can cause changes in brain function. The presence of pain can also make pain symptoms worse or predispose someone to other pain conditions. Julia Harding, who has lived for years with chronic pelvic pain, had this advice in an email interview: “You should never give up. You have to be persistent and find the right doctor and treatment that works for you. Everyone’s pain is different and it might take a multiple treatment approach.”
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.