About Gynecologic Cancer and Pelvic Pain

Author: Marisa Healy, BSN, RN
Content Contributor: Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, Andrea Cheville, MD, and Lora Packel, M.S.P.T.
Last Reviewed: January 16, 2024

What is pelvic pain?

Your pelvis is found between your abdomen (belly) and your thighs. It is made up of many bones, such as those of the lower spine, coccyx (tailbone), hips, and upper thighs. Your pelvis also has your reproductive organs and rectum. Pelvic pain is pain or discomfort in the area of the pelvis. Pelvic pain caused by gynecologic cancers happens mostly in the lower abdomen part of your pelvic area.

What causes pelvic pain?

Surgery and radiation can be used to treat gynecologic cancers. These treatments can damage normal cells and tissue. This can lead to scar tissue that affects your nerves, joints, and muscles, causing pain.

Pelvic pain may:

  • Come and go or be constant.
  • Feel like an aching/burning, stabbing, or shock-like feeling.
  • Be described as "discomfort" rather than pain.
  • Happen at rest or with activity.

The pain may happen when you:

  • Wear tight clothing.
  • Sit for long periods.
  • Have sex.
  • Have your period.
  • Urinate or have a bowel movement.
  • Become constipated.

Let your provider know if you have any discomfort that does not go away or if pain affects your normal activity.

What can I do about pelvic pain?

The first step is to talk with your provider about the pain. There are treatments that can be used to help with your symptoms. Treatment for each person may be different, based on your symptoms and what is causing your pain. Your treatment may include:

  • Exercise and stretches.
  • Medications.
  • Hormonal creams.
  • Vaginal dilators.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Lubricants.

It is important to relieve pelvic pain so that it does not affect your daily life. If one treatment does not seem to be helping, talk to your provider about your other options. If pelvic pain is limiting your sexual activity, you can learn more by reading the article About Gynecologic Cancer and Sexuality.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2023. What are the symptoms? Taken from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/gynecologic/basic_info/symptoms.htm

Mayo Clinic. Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women. 2021.

National Library of Medicine. 2017. Pelvic Pain. Taken from https://medlineplus.gov/pelvicpain.html 

Vistad I et al. A study of chronic pelvic pain after radiotherapy in survivors of locally advanced cervical cancer. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2011.