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Chronic Pelvic Pain and Sexuality

dolor pèlvic crònic

Chronic pelvic pain is defined as "chronic or persistent pain in the structures related to the pelvis in both men and women". It commonly impacts on cognitive, sexual and emotional behaviour. It often manifests as gynaecological, sexual, intestinal or pelvic floor dysfunction. A MULTIDISCIPLINARY approach must therefore be taken to treatment. 

Chronic pelvic pain lasts for six months or more and affects the pelvic area, the abdominal wall of the bellybutton and below, the lumbosacral area of the back and/or buttocks and is of sufficient intensity to cause disability in the patient and/or require medical attention.

This has a clear effect on the quality of life of people suffering from the condition.


Its origin is unknown, but we do know that it is exploited by multiple biological/organic, psychological and environmental conditions, which interact in a non-linear way and predispose the patient to present with the condition. There is a clear trend for patients to attend multiple specialists, with requests for complementary testing, which can become iatrogenic, with the patient often feeling misunderstood and ill-treated by the healthcare system.





As it is more of a clinical condition rather than a diagnosis as such, the symptoms can vary a lot, but they always centre around persistent pain. It has a major impact on women of reproductive age and its impact on quality of life varies depending on the causes. It is worth remembering that it gravely impacts on patients’ sex lives and this can cause very significant psychological issues.



How is affected by the condition?


According to research, the prevalence of pelvic pain in epidemiology is vary variable. This almost certainly has to do with sociocultural aspects. According to the latest studies, it could be as much as 6.4-25.4% in women and lower in men, at around 2-17%. It is very likely that in the case of men there is an underestimation of this prevalence as there is less willingness to look at problems that also affect the sexual sphere.   





Diagnosis is clinical. An appropriate clinical history needs to be conducted with the patient and/or relatives by a specialised healthcare professional. There are different scales to assess the severity of symptoms or associated comorbid disorders, and neuropsychological tests that evaluate cognitive difficulties in terms of attention and concentration. There are also some useful complementary tests to rule out organic causes and make a good diagnosis.



Typical treatment


A multi-modal approach is required: psychoeducation, psychological treatment and pharmacological treatment. If the condition is also affecting the patient’s sexuality, we must consider tackling the issue with the patient’s partner as a priority. Several drugs have been shown to help control the symptoms. It very important for treatment to create a good doctor/patient relationship, avoiding unnecessary and iatrogenic complementary testing.



Typical Tests


 Clinical history. Psychological interview. Neuropsychological examination. Blood test, vital signs, weight and height. Neuroimaging. Scans.





Work with healthcare professionals from the different specialisms that treat chronic pelvic pain. Schedule regular appointments and manage requests for complementary tests and medical interventions to prevent iatrogenic illness. Do regular physical exercise, try to rest well at night, stay active and take part in employment and/or leisure activities, practise relaxation therapies such as mindfulness and avoid consuming toxic substances. Rehabilitation physiotherapy.



Notable professionals at Vall d'Hebron who treat this condition


Psiquiatría: Dr. J A Navarro Sanchis




Hospital o serveis complementaris relacionats

General Hospital

Where to find it

Children's Hospital and Woman's Hospital

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Dr. Antonio
Gil Moreno
Head of Department
Biomedical Research in Gynaecology
Dr. Josep Antoni
Ramos Quiroga
Head of Department
Lead Researcher
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Dra. Gemma
Parramon Puig
Head of Section
Dr. Marc
Ferrer Vinardell
Head of Section
Lead Researcher
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Sra. Adela
Amat Huerta
Nursing Supervisor
Dra. Amanda
Rodriguez Urrutia
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Dr. Christian
Fadeuilhe Grau
Dra. María Sonsoles
Cepeda Diez
Dr. Jose A.
Navarro Sanchis
Sra. Marta
Perea Ortueta
Sra. Anna
Beneria Gonzàlez
Dra. Mar
Ramos Gascon
Dra. Sara Guila
Fidel Kinori