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Study Finds Not Enough Young Women Report Pelvic Pain

Update Date: Nov 08, 2013 03:30 PM EST

Researchers from the University of Florida conducted the first study to interview college-educated women about pelvic pain. Pelvic pain occurs in the lower abdomen region and the level of pain can range. Even though pelvic pain might lead to discomfort, this study found that these college-educated women who tend to have easier access to medical care do not report the pain to their doctors. Pelvic pain ends up being untreated.

The research team interviewed a total of 2,000 young women who were in their late teens and early 20s. The survey asked them about their pelvic pain and whether or not they received medical treatment. Out of the sample set, the team received 400 responses. From these answers, the team calculated that 72 percent of them reported experiencing pelvic pain. 75 percent of this group stated that they did not seek any kind of treatment. 80 percent dealt with painful periods. The researchers also reported that one-third of the women reported painful sexual encounters and one-fifth of the women stated feeling pain in the external genitalia area.

"There is a significant lack of awareness about pelvic pain in general," Dr. Nash Moawad, the director of the Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology at UF Health and the lead investigator of the study. "Some women thought their pain was normal. They think that is how periods are supposed to be. But if you are missing days from school or work or have to cancel activities, that is striking. No pain should ever be that severe. If a woman has to take narcotics for pain, or if she has had to drop out of classes, that is not normal. She should see a physician."

When asked why they did not seek help, the participants admitted feeling embarrassed with some of them stating that their doctors lacked sympathy and understanding. Some of them stated that they had difficulty setting up an appointment while others had problems with their insurance. The researchers hope that this study's findings would encourage women to seek help because pelvic pain could be an indicator of an underlying health condition.

"But a big part of the problem is that women often don't realize their pain is abnormal," said Moawad according to Medical Xpress.

The study was published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

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