Pelvic pain in children

Also known as: Abdominal pain, menstrual pain.

What is pelvic or abdominal pain in girls?

Pain below the umbilicus, in the lower part of the abdomen and between the hip bones is referred to as pelvic pain. It's common in young girls, can be acute or chronic and can arise from problems or irregularities with the reproductive system/menstrual cycle (gynecological), or non-gynecological disorders.

What causes pelvic or abdominal pain in girls?

Causes of pelvic or abdominal pain in girls can be gynecological or non-gynecological in nature.

Gynecological Causes

Frequent gynecological causes of acute pain include:

  • Ovulation. Research shows that as many as 40 percent of women may experience discomfort or pain during ovulation. This may include cramps, sharp pains, twinges or uncomfortable pressure, among other symptoms.
  • Menstrual cramps. These are throbbing or cramping feelings that tend to occur before or during the menstrual period. Most women experience them to some degree, and they can range from annoying to debilitating depending on the individual who is affected.
  • Ruptured ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts are common among women and girls, and many of them occur without causing any symptoms. When they rupture, however, they can cause abdominal pain in girls that ranges from a dull ache to a sharp pain or severe pain and shock. If severe pain, fever, vomiting, rapid breathing, weakness or lightheadedness occur, seek medical attention.
  • Twisting of the ovary or Fallopian tube. This is a rare but serious disorder known as ovarian torsion. If a girl experiences it, the symptoms tend to come on suddenly and include severe pain, nausea and vomiting. Ovarian torsion is a medical emergency that requires prompt medical treatment.
  • Other disorders. Additional gynecological causes of abdominal pain in girls can include uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse, dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, uterine or ovarian cancer and more.

Non-gynecologic Causes

Non-gynecologic causes of abdominal pain in girls can include:

  • Abdominal muscle pain. The muscles of the abdomen can get strained due to over-exercise or injury in some cases, which can lead to pain, cramping and other issues in the abdomen.  
  • Trauma. An injury to the abdomen is also a common cause of abdominal pain in girls. This can be due to sports, a fall, a car accident or other forms of trauma.
  • Bladder infections. Pain around the pelvis is common with bladder infections, along with other symptoms such as frequent urination, cloudy urine, urine that smells bad or fever in some cases.
  • Appendicitis. This inflammation of the appendix can lead to severe, sudden pain, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fever and other symptoms. Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency.
  • Other causes. Chronic pelvic pain can also come from endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), intestinal spasm, constipation and a number of other conditions.

What are the symptoms of pelvic or abdominal pain in girls?

Depending on the cause, pelvic pain may be mild, moderate, or severe and can be a symptom on its own or be part of other medical conditions.

It might be a dull aching pain, or sharp and stabbing, steady or come and go like cramps. It also might only be present during certain activities, such as sex or urination.

What are the treatment options for pelvic pain?

Treatments for pelvic pain will vary widely depending on the cause of the pain. They can range from over-the-counter treatments for mild pain, dietary changes, antibiotics, hormonal therapy, or surgery.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 22, 2024 02:27 PM

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