Possible Causes of Pelvic Pain


Sibyl Brazil of Nacogdoches, Texas, first noticed the pain on her lower left side while shopping for groceries about 15 years ago. It came and went, starting out as a dull ache. Over a few weeks, the ache became a constant, sharp stab. "When it gets bad, really awful, you want to just die," she says.

Her misery turned out to be diverticulitis, the inflammation of abnormal pea-sized pouches protruding from her intestines. The condition, which may be the result of a low-fiber diet, often strikes older adults, says Joseph Sellin, M.D., Chief of Staff at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. About half of all 50-year-olds and about 70 percent of people in their 70s get diverticulitis.

Sibyl, now 80, has been hospitalized twice in the past 10 years -- the last time after hemorrhaging. Luckily, all she needed was a dose of antibiotics. "It isn't any fun," she says. "You go along for weeks with no problem, and then all of a sudden it hits you."

Symptoms: People with diverticulitis suffer cramping abdominal pain, most commonly on the left side, or experience pain during a bowel movement. Fever and diarrhea are also signs.

Diagnosis: A physical exam, white-blood count, and barium-enema X ray generally reveal the problem.

Treatment: Antibiotics can cure diverticulitis, but in severe cases, an operation to drain and remove abscesses may be needed.

Continued on page 7:  Ectopic Pregnancy