The flat, wing-like pelvic bone may not have earned a place in the verses of the old spiritual “Dem Bones,” but its connection to your overall health can’t be overstated.
Located at the base of the spine, the pelvic bone is part of an entire system—the pelvis—that encases female reproductive organs, hipbones and bowels. If the pelvis causes pain, it can have wide-ranging effects on a woman’s health and wellness. A woman’s pelvis is part of her core, and having a strong core is the backbone to good health.
Where does it hurt?
Because the pelvis has so many components, it can be difficult to isolate the cause of pelvic pain. But most likely it’s not the result of an injury but rather an indication that some portion of the pelvic area isn’t working properly.
Pain is a signal. It’s not supposed to be there all the time. It’s supposed to tell us something important.
The pelvic floor, the muscle that supports the pelvis, can fatigue and cramp just like muscles in your arms and legs, causing discomfort. And a weakened pelvic floor can escalate bowel irregularities and urinary incontinence or leakage.
Pelvic pain also can be skeletal, resulting from aches in the hipbones and joints, or gynecological, resulting from excessive bleeding or cramping.
Past trauma or emotional strain is another possible source of pelvic pain. A woman suffering from psychological stress may tense during intercourse, for example, causing unnecessary yet severe agitation in the pelvic region.
Listen to your body
Discovering the cause of pelvic pain can be like solving a mystery. There are many clues—is the pain sudden, or does it come on gradually? Is the discomfort related to menstruation?
Be proactive. Listen to your body and have awareness.
It’s also important to make your healthcare provider aware of your pelvic pain—don’t assume it’s something you just have to live with. Before you go in for an office visit, track your pelvic symptoms so you can relay as much information as possible to your doctor. After collecting a full oral history and conducting an appropriate exam, your physician should be able to localize the cause of the pain or bring in a specialist if needed, and suggest treatment.
Doctors recommend pelvic physical therapy as an effective way to learn how to relax or strengthen certain muscles and gain control of your pelvis and its functions. Too many patients delay seeking help, she says, but most pelvic issues should be addressed and can be resolved.