Helping The Doctor Help You

Tracking down the reason for pelvic pain can be difficult and time consuming. Your doctor will need to gain an understanding of the way in which you experience your pain and when it occurs. One of the best ways to "share your pain" with your physician is to keep a pain journal.

By recording details about your pain over a period of time and showing your records to your physician, he may be able to see a pattern that can alert him about possible causes for your pain. That will give your physician a direction for testing and treatment.

In your pain journal, you will note each time you feel pain and record the time you felt the pain and at which point in your menstrual cycle the pain occurred. Your doctor will also want you to mention whether the pain occurred prior to, during, or after eating, sleeping, urination, bowel movement, physical activity, or sex.

Characterizing Pain

Next, you'll be asked to characterize the pain and the length of time it lasts:

*Sharp and stabbing, or dull and achy?

*Comes and goes in waves, or remains constant?

*How long does the pain last?

*How strong is the pain?

*Is the pain always experienced in the same exact place?

*Is the pain concentrated on one spot or is it covering a more general area?

*Is there anything that improves or worsens your pain?

Exact Location

Your doctor will ask you to note the degree of intensity and the exact location of your pain. He will want to know when you first noticed the pain and how often it comes. The doctor will be interested in learning to what degree your pelvic pain affects your daily activities such as work and family responsibilities. He may also ask you about your past medical and sexual histories, if you've ever been pregnant, and whether or not you may have experienced mental, physical, or sexual abuse.

There are known links between rape, sexual abuse, and depression to chronic pain. Because of this, your doctor will ask you some very personal questions. He is trying to determine whether you might need counseling and he has to rule out these possibilities as the causes for your pain.

After you keep your pain journal for the specified amount of time, your doctor will analyze the information you've recorded. The information you include in your pain journal should help your doctor to rule out some specific causes of pelvic pain. He may then decide to send you for a consultation with a different specialist or order tests. He may also be able to prescribe treatment to alleviate your pain even before the cause is identified.

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