Common Female Pelvic Conditions and Symptoms

Women face the possibility of a number of pelvic conditions that are specific to females. Some are fine if left untreated while ignoring others could be fatal.

Let's take a look at the symptoms of these pelvic conditions so you can recognize them if they happen to you or someone you love.

doctor and patient

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Asherman's Syndrome

Asherman's syndrome is the formation of intrauterine adhesions (IUAs) or scar tissue that often causes the front and back walls of the uterus to stick together. These scars are usually the result of trauma to the uterus from a recent pregnancy or other causes, including surgery for uterine fibroid tumors or polyps, as well as Cesarean section.

Symptoms include a very light period or no period, but some women still experience pain during the time menstruation would normally occur. Sadly, miscarriages and infertility are frequent.

The most common treatment is hysteroscopy, sometimes assisted by laparoscopy.  Unfortunately, if the adhesions are severe, they often reform, requiring additional surgery or treatment. 

Benign Uterine Fibroid Tumors

Uterine fibroid tumors are almost never cancerous and frequently occur without causing any pain.

Fibroids usually manifest as a number of small tumors but can occur as a single large tumor. This can cause women with large fibroid tumors to appear pregnant.

Treatment options include:

  • No treatment because the tumors frequently shrink on their own once menopause occurs
  • Myomectomy: the surgical removal of fibroids
  • Endometrial ablation: the surgical destruction of your endometrium
  • Hysterectomy: the removal of your uterus and possibly other organs in your reproductive system


Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for severe menstrual cramps that keep you from performing your normal daily activities.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, and the inner thighs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches and dizziness

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) frequently help reduce the pain and work best when taken at the first sign of pain. Other treatments that can help include hormonal treatments such as birth control pills and vaginal rings.


Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows in other places in the body. While the pelvic area, including your fallopian tubes and ovaries, is the most common site for endometriosis, the tissue can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs.

Hormones cause changes to endometriosis whenever menstruation occurs. The breakdown of these tissues frequently leads to pelvic adhesions or scar tissue, which may cause severe pain and bind organs together.

The main symptom of endometriosis is pain that may occur during sex, bowel movements, urination, and menstruation. Treatment of endometriosis depends on the severity of the disease and whether you want to have children and includes medications and surgical procedures.


Mittelschmerz is a German word meaning "midcycle pain." Most often, the pain of ovulation lasts for six to eight hours but may last for 24 to 48 hours. Fortunately, self-help treatments can ease discomfort.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often called a "silent killer" because there are few or no symptoms until the disease has reached a late stage. There are three main types of ovarian cancer:

  • Epithelial, which is the most common (85% to 90% of cases) and covers the outer surface of the ovaries
  • Germ cell tumors, which form on the cells in the ovary that develop into eggs
  • Sex cord-stromal tumors, which occur in the connective tissues inside the ovaries

Warning signs of ovarian cancer may include unexplained:

  • Back pain
  • Increase in abdominal size
  • Difficulty eating and weight loss
  • Urinary incontinence and frequent urination

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid or tissue-filled sacs that form on your ovaries and most go away on their own. Symptoms include dull or sharp pain in the abdomen during certain activities.

Small cysts might not produce any symptoms, but larger cysts may twist, causing pain. Some ovarian cysts can rupture or bleed, requiring immediate medical attention.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs that can lead to infertility if untreated. More than 1 million women each year receive a diagnosis of PID.

Symptoms of PID include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and/or in the upper right abdomen
  • Fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting
  • Painful sexual intercourse and/or urination

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) frequently leads to infertility and the cause appears to be a number of factors that work together, including insulin resistance, increased androgens, and irregular or absent menstruation.

Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Obesity
  • Hirsutism (increased hair growth on face, chest, abdomen and upper thighs)
  • Heavy, irregular or absent menstruation
  • Patches of thickened, dark, velvety skin
  • Multiple small cysts on your ovaries

Treatment options for PCOS depend largely on whether you want to have children.

Uterine or Endometrial Cancer

Uterine or endometrial cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer. It is rarely seen in women under 40, and most commonly occurs in women 60 and older.

Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Starting menstruation before age 12
  • Family history
  • Long-term use of estrogen without progesterone or high-dose oral contraceptives

Symptoms can be constant or can come and go, and include

  • Abnormal bleeding and spotting
  • New vaginal discharge and bleeding
  • Spotting after menopause

Any time you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Donnez J, Donnez O, Dolmans MM. The current place of medical therapy in uterine fibroid management. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2018;46:57-65. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2017.10.008

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  6. Kossaï M, Leary A, Scoazec JY, Genestie C. Ovarian Cancer: A Heterogeneous Disease. Pathobiology. 2018;85(1-2):41-49. doi:10.1159/000479006

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  9. Bugg CW, Taira T. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Diagnosis And Treatment In The Emergency Department. Emerg Med Pract. 2016;18(12):1-24.

  10. Bednarska S, Siejka A. The pathogenesis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: What's new? Adv Clin Exp Med. 2017;26(2):359-367. doi:10.17219/acem/59380

  11. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Endometrial Cancer, 2020.

  12. Constantine, GD, Kessler, G, Graham, S, Goldstein, SR. Increased incidence of endometrial cancer following the Women's Health Initiative: an assessment of risk factors. Journal of Women's Health, 2019;28(2), 237-243. doi:10.1089/jwh.2018.6956

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Additional Reading
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Cancer Of The Uterus, FAQ 097 Gynecological Problems. ACOG.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Dilation and Curettage (D&C), FAQ 062 Special Procedures. ACOG.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Dysmenorrhea, FAQ 046 Gynecological Problems. ACOG. 

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Endometriosis, FAQ 013 Gynecological Problems. ACOG. 

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Ovarian Cysts, FAQ 075 Gynecological Problems. ACOG.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, FAQ 077 Gynecological Problems. ACOG.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, FAQ 121 Gynecological Problems. ACOG.

  • Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet. ACOG.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.