What causes long-term pelvic pain?

In many cases, your healthcare professional will not be able to identify an underlying problem or give a clear diagnosis and he or she will only be able to assure you that there is no serious medical problem.

Long-term pelvic pain is often caused by a combination of physical, psychological and/or social factors, rather than a single underlying condition.

These factors include:

  • endometriosis (a condition where cells of the lining of the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere in the body, usually in the pelvis)
  • adenomyosis (a condition where the endometrium is in pockets within the muscle wall of the womb)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (an infection of the womb, fallopian tubes and/or pelvis)
  • interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  • musculoskeletal pain (pain in your joints, muscles, ligaments and bones)
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • depression, including postnatal depression
  • previous or ongoing traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse in some women
  • adhesions (areas of scarred tissue that may be a result of a previous infection, endometriosis or surgery) – although these are common, they do not always cause pain
  • trapped or damaged nerves in the pelvic area.


For some women with long-term pelvic pain none of these factors may be found.

You may be asked about aspects of your everyday life including your sleep patterns, appetite and general wellbeing. You may also be asked about how you are feeling and whether you are feeling depressed or tearful. This is because long-term pain is known to cause depression, which in turn may make your pain worse.