Sudden, unexpected pelvic pain

Pelvic pain that comes on suddenly for the first time is called acute pelvic pain.See your GP immediatelyif you have acute pelvic pain. They'll be able to investigate the cause and arrange any necessary treatment.

Common causes of acutepelvic pain

The most common causes of acute pelvic pain in women who aren't pregnant are:

  • an ovarian cyst a fluid-filled sac that develops on an ovary and causes pelvic pain when it bursts or becomes twisted
  • acute pelvic inflammatory disease a bacterial infection of the womb, fallopian tubes or ovaries, which often follows a chlamydia or gonorrhoea infection and needs immediate treatment with antibiotics
  • appendicitis a painful swelling of the appendix (a finger-like pouch connected to the large intestine) which usually causes pain on the lower right-hand side of your abdomen (tummy)
  • peritonitis inflammation of the peritoneum (the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen);it causes sudden abdominal pain that gradually becomes more severe and requires immediate medical treatment
  • a urinary tract infection you'll probably also havepain or a burning sensation when you urinate, and you may need to urinate more often
  • constipation or bowel spasm this may be brought on by changes in diet, medication, irritable bowel syndrome or, in rare cases, a bowel obstruction

Less common reasons for acute pelvic pain

Less common causes of acute pelvic pain include:


  • a pelvic abscess a collection of pus between the womb and vagina thatneeds urgent treatment inhospital
  • endometriosis a long-term conditionwhere small pieces of womb lining are found outside the womb, such as on the ovaries, leading to painful periods
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018