About Gynecologic Cancer and Pelvic Pain

Author: OncoLink Team
Content Contributor: Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, Andrea Cheville, MD, Lora Packel, M.S.P.T.
Last Reviewed: January 23, 2020

What is pelvic pain?

Pelvic pain is pain or discomfort in the area of the pelvis. The pelvis is found between the abdomen and the thighs. Within the pelvis are many bones including those of the lower spine, coccyx, hips, upper thighs and also contains organs including the reproductive organs and the rectum. Pelvic pain related to gynecologic cancers occurs mostly in the lower abdomen portion of the 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, resulting in 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.
  • Occur at rest or with activity.

The pain may occur when you:

  • Wear constrictive clothing.
  • Sit for long periods of time.
  • Have sexual intercourse.
  • Have your period.
  • Urinate or have a bowel movement. 
  • Become constipated.

Please let your provider know if you have any discomfort that does not go away or disrupts your normal activity.

What can I do about pelvic pain?

The first step is to talk with your provider about the pain. There are a variety of treatments that can be used to manage 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 specialized stretches.
  • Medications.
  • Hormonal creams.
  • Vaginal dilators.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Lubricants.

It is important to manage pelvic pain so that it does not interfere with your daily life. If one treatment does not seem to be helping speak 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.

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