Women Veterans Health Care
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain is common in women Veterans, but treatment is available to reduce your pain and help you live a healthy, active life.
Chronic pelvic pain is pain in the lower abdomen, genital area, lower back, or thighs that needs treatment and lasts more than 6 months. This pain can be consistent but can get worse when you are having your period, urinating, having sex, or walking.
Chronic pelvic pain is often caused by one, or several, of the following conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects the large bowel
- Interstitial cystitis (bladder pain syndrome)
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Endometriosis, in which cells that usually grow in the uterus grow outside of the uterus
- Pelvic injury or surgery
- Cysts on the ovaries
Veterans who experienced military sexual trauma (MST), combat trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are 2-3 times more likely to have chronic pelvic pain than Veterans who do not have these traumatic experiences. Left untreated, chronic pelvic pain can cause problems like anxiety or depression, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue and can affect your relationships and overall health.
No matter the cause of your chronic pelvic pain, VA is here to help you improve your quality of life.
What services does VA provide for chronic pelvic pain?
VA offers a number of services to reduce chronic pelvic pain. Treatments depend on the cause of your pain, but may include:
- Pelvic physical therapy
- Medications to treat specific conditions, such as IBS, endometriosis, or muscle spasms
- Surgery to treat endometriosis
- Injections with pain numbing medications
- Electrical nerve stimulation
- Behavioral pain management programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Mental health support and treatment.
- Often, getting help for mental health conditions like depression and PTSD, or experiences of military sexual trauma, helps make chronic pain more manageable. Vice versa is also true: getting help for your chronic pain can help your mental health.
Whole Health practices, such as tai chi, yoga, and acupressure have also been shown to help reduce pain. Your health care provider may also offer information on self-management.
How do I access services for chronic pelvic pain at VA?
The first step is to visit your primary care provider. Be prepared to talk about the type of pain you are having, when it occurs, and how long you have had it. Because chronic pelvic pain can have a number of causes, your provider may order some tests, such as blood and urine tests, CT scans, or ultrasounds. Then your provider will recommend a course of action or a referral to another specialty.
If you don't already use VA health care, you you may want to use the following online tools:
Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.
Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.
Find your local VA and make an appointment.
The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health
If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:
- Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
- Setting up a medical appointment in your area
- Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) or other benefits from VA related to chronic pelvic pain?
Explore disability eligibility here. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) representative at your nearest regional office can explain more. Find your nearest regional office.
Where can I find more information, help, and resources on chronic pelvic pain?
- Pelvic Pain Education and videos *
- VHA Women's Health Chronic Pain
- VHA Pain Management
* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
† VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.