Learn about causes of abdominal pain specific to women, as well as other potential causes that can affect both men and women.
Menstruation is the most common cause of abdominal pain in women. If your menstrual cycle is accompanied by painful cramps, the condition is called dysmenorrhea. Most women experience menstrual cramps at some point in their lives, and it typically is not something to worry about unless the pain is so severe that it hinders your daily activities.
Management includes conservative treatment such as heat pads, moderate exercise, and rest. Some people may need to take analgesics for pain relief.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac inside an ovary. Although most ovarian cysts don’t cause symptoms, large ovarian cysts can cause abdominal pain and frequent urination if they compress the bladder.
An ovarian cyst that ruptures can cause severe pain and internal bleeding. You should seek medical help if you experience sudden severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, lightheadedness, or signs of shock.
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows on the outside instead. During your menstrual cycle, the tissue thickens and bleeds but becomes trapped in the body, which can cause abdominal pain, especially during your menstrual period.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized ovum implants in places other than the uterus. It usually occurs in the fallopian tube, whose function is to connect ovaries to the uterus. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Missed period or other signs of pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding or watery discharge
- Discomfort during urination and bowel movements
Pelvic inflammatory disease
What are other common causes of lower left abdominal pain?
Abdominal pain can affect both men and women and may be caused by conditions such as:
- Gastritis: Gastritis can lead to abdominal discomfort and is often caused by smoking, overeating, alcohol consumption, lack of vitamin B12, etc. Management includes proton-pump inhibitors, such as rabeprazole and pantoprazole.
- Constipation: Constipation can cause bloating, flatulence, and abdominal cramps. Other symptoms include heartburn and nausea. Management includes diet modifications, medications, and fiber supplements.
- Hernia: A hernia is the protrusion of an internal organ through the surrounding tissue that can cause a lump or bulge to appear in the abdomen. Other symptoms of hernia include a feeling of fullness, reduction in the size of the bulge on lying, movement of the bulge on coughing, dull aching sensation, pain when lifting, etc. Management includes surgical intervention such as herniorrhaphy, hernioplasty, and herniotomy.
- Kidney stones: Kidney stones are commonly caused by recurrent urinary infections, dehydration, or the genetic tendency of developing stones. Pain due to kidney stones starts in the abdomen and radiates to the back. Other symptoms include:
- Diverticulitis: Diverticula are small pouches in the intestine that are created due to pressure over weak spots in the colon. When these pouches tear, swell, or get infected, it can cause significant pain in the abdomen. Management consists of dietary modifications and surgery in severe cases.
Other causes of lower left abdominal pain include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Food intolerance or allergy (such as lactose intolerance)
- Aortic aneurysm in the abdomen (bulging and weakening of the major artery in the body)
- Obstruction or blockage of the bowels
- Cancers of the stomach or colon
- Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation) with or without gallstones
- Blood flow to the intestines is reduced (ischemic bowel)
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas (swelling or infection of the pancreas)
- Gastric or duodenal ulcers
- Urinary tract infections
What are different types of abdominal pain?
Generalized abdominal pain: Pain that affects more than half of the abdomen is referred to as generalized pain. This type of discomfort is more commonly associated with a stomach illness, indigestion, or gas. If the pain becomes severe, it could be caused by a blockage of the intestines.
Localized abdominal pain: Pain that is restricted to a single area of the abdomen is called localized pain. It is more likely to indicate an issue with an organ such as the appendix, gallbladder, or stomach.
Cramps: Pain that feels like a cramp is typically not serious and often caused by gas and bloating. More concerning symptoms include pain that occurs more frequently, lasts longer than 24 hours, or is accompanied by a fever.
Colicky pain: Pain that comes in waves is called colicky pain. It frequently begins and ends abruptly, and it is often severe. This form of stomach pain is commonly caused by kidney stones and gallstones.
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University of Michigan Health System. Abdominal Pain, Age 12 and Older. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/abdpn
Cleveland Clinic. What’s Causing Your Lower Abdominal Pain? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-causing-your-lower-abdominal-pain/
Gotfried J. Chronic Abdominal Pain and Recurring Abdominal Pain. MSD Manuals. https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-in/home/digestive-disorders/symptoms-of-digestive-disorders/chronic-abdominal-pain-and-recurring-abdominal-pain
Gray J, Wardrope J, Fothergill DJ. 7 Abdominal pain, abdominal pain in women, complications of pregnancy and labour. Emerg Med J. 2004 Sep;21(5):606-13. https://emj.bmj.com/content/21/5/606
Top What Causes Lower Left Abdominal Pain in Women Related Articles
What Causes Abdominal Pain?Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?In general, abdominal pain, which may be in the lower left or right of your abdomen, is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and others. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Children's Abdominal PainAbdominal pain in children can be more than just a tummy ache. What are the common causes of abdominal pain in children? Learn about pediatric abdominal pain symptoms and treatments for stomach pain in children.
Ectopic Pregnancy (Tubal Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy located outside the inner lining of the uterus. The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include abdominal pain, lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea), vaginal bleeding, fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
Treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy include observation, medication, or surgery.
What Is Endometriosis?What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is an abnormal growth of endometrial cells found in the uterus. Not to be confused with endometrial cancer, endometriosis has different symptoms and treatments, including surgery.
How Do I Know If I Have Endometriosis?Approximately, one-third of the women with endometriosis remain asymptomatic. Severe pain during menses may be the first sign of endometriosis. Other symptoms that you may experience include heavy periods, low back pain, cramps, pain during intercourse and other symptoms.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from AIDS, among women. The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include: fever, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, abdominal pain, including pain during intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and related structures and lead to ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious consequences. Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes several types of antibiotics.
25 Ways to Relieve Menstrual CrampsMenstrual cramps happen when prostaglandins force the uterus to contract. Dysmenorrhea, or period pain, may be relieved by heating pads, ibuprofen, and other measures. Endometriosis may cause severe cramps during the menstrual cycle. Luckily, women have many options for period pain relief.
What Causes Upper Left Abdominal Pain?What are the causes of abdominal pain on the upper left side? Learn the signs of possible causes.
What Is The Main Cause of Ovarian Cysts?Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled growths that grow on the ovary. Learn the signs of an ovarian cyst, what causes ovarian cysts, how doctors diagnose ovarian cysts, and what you can do to treat an ovarian cyst.
Why Am I Having Menstrual Cramps but No Period?Menstrual cramps may happen even without a period. Learn more about menstrual cramps without a period, when they can happen, what causes them, and what to watch out for.