In the United States alone, it is estimated that 9 million women or 15% of the female population suffer from chronic pelvic pain. Unfortunately, up to 61% of women with chronic pelvic pain do not have a clear diagnosis on what is causing their pain. Because of this, women may have to see many health care providers until they find one who has the diagnostic skills and desire to really get to the bottom of what is causing the pain.
If you are preparing for your first chronic pelvic pain appointment with a MIRI specialist, you may be nervous and eager to find a diagnosis for your pain. Being prepared for your appointment may help alleviate some of your anxiety. It will also help your gynecological surgeon best diagnose and treat your chronic pelvic pain.
- Know that pelvic pain can be caused by a number of different body systems, including gastroenterological, gynecologic, urologic and musculoskeletal. Keep in mind that some problems may have to be ruled out, even if you are sure they are not what is causing your pelvic pain.
- Keep a pain diary for at least two weeks before your appointment. Do you have pelvic pain with sex? Pain after sex? Pain after bowel movements or eating? Pain after urination? The more specifics you can add to your pain diary will help your specialist identify the cause of your pelvic pain.
- Do you have abnormal bleeding with your pelvic pain? If so, keep a bleeding diary as well. Be sure to document the days you bleed and how much you are bleeding? You can write down how many pads or tampons you are using per day if that helps you keep track.
- Be prepared to have some diagnostic tests on the day of your appointment. You may have blood work, a sonogram or other tests that may be done during a pelvic exam.
- If you’ve seen other healthcare providers before your MIRI specialist, be sure to bring your records or have them sent over. Do the same for other procedures you’ve had, even if they seem unrelated. Copies of colonoscopies, operative reports, radiation, etc. may give your surgeon a clue into what’s going on.
- Know a little bit about common causes of pelvic pain. This might help you feel less overwhelmed and more prepared to talk with your specialist. Some common causes of chronic pelvic pain are endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic congestion syndrome, interstitial cystitis and pelvic floor prolapse.