Gynecological Disorders - Research (cont.)
NICHD is currently conducting a one-year longitudinal study on bacterial vaginosis and the factors associated with the condition. Results from the study are expected in 2005.
The National Vaginitis Association also provides patient information on these types of infections.
Pelvic Floor Disorders
This understudied area of women's health includes a variety of problems, the most common of which are:
While some pelvic floor disorders may result from pelvic surgery or radiation treatments, in some of cases, the initial trigger for the problem is vaginal delivery of a child. However, researchers don't clearly understand how vaginal delivery is related to pelvic floor disorders; they can't determine which women will develop pelvic floor disorders based on length or intensity of labor.
Many women with pelvic floor disorders also reported chronic pain as a symptom of their condition. These women noted that the pain's frequency and intensity had a major affect on their quality of life. Because of its chronic pain feature, vulvodynia is sometimes included as a pelvic floor disorder.
Although researchers know little about the causes or features of pelvic floor disorders, research in underway on a variety of topics related to pelvic floor disorders. In July 2001, the NICHD established the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN) to support research projects that examine problems related to pelvic floor disorders. The PFDN includes seven clinical sites around the country, and a central data collection center. Through this research, the NICHD hopes to learn more about: normal pelvic floor function, the characteristics of known pelvic floor disorders, the effects of hormones on these conditions, injury during vaginal delivery and how it is related to these conditions, and the development of tools to help health care providers understand the level of function, dysfunction, or pain.
In general, pelvic pain signals that there may be a problem with one of the organs in your pelvic area: uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, lower intestines, or rectum. Or, it might be a symptom of an infection.
Your health care provider will likely conduct a number of tests to find the cause of your pain. Treatment varies by what the cause is, how intense the pain is, and how often the pain occurs. Sometimes pain medication is the best option. Other times, an antibiotic may be necessary. If the pain results from a problem with one of your pelvic organs, for example, if you find out that you have endometriosis, then your treatment may be more involved.
The International Pelvic Pain Society offers patient information about pelvic
pain and chronic pelvic pain, as well as some suggestions for how to talk with
your health care provider about pelvic pain.
Last Editorial Review: 12/22/2004