Pelvic Pain: Why Sneezing Makes It Worse

Ah, Choo! The good old sniffles. During these covid times and unpredictable weather conditions, it is quite common to catch a cold. Whichever is the cause, it is quite bothersome to sneeze continuously. Pelvic pain besides sneezing makes the condition worse. 

Now, why are you experiencing pelvic pain when sneezing? 

Well, there can be a range of causes most of them involving the pelvic floor, abdominal organs, and muscles. While you already have pelvic pain due to certain reasons, sneezing just enhances the pain. However, treating the underlying cause might give you relief from the agony. 

In this article, we have listed out a few causes behind your pelvic pain and a few remedies that have proven to mitigate the pain. Continue reading to know. 

Pelvic Pain When Sneezing

The pelvic floor is made up of a sheet of muscles that resembles a dome. It separates the perineal region from the pelvic cavity above. The pelvic cavity encloses the pelvic viscera like the intestines, bladder, and uterus in the case of women. 

The pelvic floor is one of the parts of your body that tackles a great amount of pressure and stress daily. Supporting the abdominal and pelvic viscera is its main function. If you are suffering from a pathogenic condition on your pelvic floor then sneezing and coughing might be your enemy.

pelvic-pain-when-sneezing

When you cough or sneeze the muscles of your pelvic floor need to contract to hold the integrity. This helps to counterbalance pelvic pressure. If there are abnormalities in the pelvic floor then the body might interpret it as pain. 

This can be perceived as pain in the lower abdomen, pelvic pain, the pain of the deep pelvic viscera such as ovary, uterus, etc. In order to diagnose your cause, you might consult a pelvic floor specialist.

Types of Pelvic pain 

Experiencing pain when sneezing or coughing can indicate an underlying cause. To get the perfect diagnosis, it is a prime need to identify the condition. The sort of pain you are feeling might be a key to diagnosing your condition.

Some of the types of pain and the conditions they might indicate are as follows:

  • Pain localized in a certain area – This may be caused due to inflammation.
  • Pelvic cramps – Soft organ spasms can cause pelvic cramps. Some of the soft organs are the ureter, intestine, appendix, etc.
  • Acute onset of pain – Obstruction in blood supply may cause temporary blood supply deficiency. This might lead to sudden episodes of pain.
  • Gradual pain development – An intestinal obstruction or appendix inflammation can lead to the gradual but steady onset of pain.
  • Pain all over your abdomen – If there is an accumulation of blood, pus, or intestinal by-products then the pain can spread all over the abdomen. 
  • Pain that is triggered by movement – If there is an irritation in the lining of your abdominal cavity then the pain can be triggered by abrupt movement.

The symptoms are mere indicators and not confirmatory diagnoses. Do pay your doctor a visit and be frank about your symptoms. Extensive testing is necessary to pinpoint the underlying condition.

Causes of Pelvic Pain When Sneezing

Pelvic pain can be caused by many reasons. Sneezing might aggravate the pain.  But the underlying cause can vary according to male or female anatomy.

Pelvic Pain in Both Sexes

Here are a few possible causes of pelvic pain that applies to both women and men.

Appendicitis

Inflammation of the appendix is referred to as appendicitis. The appendix is a rudimentary organ attached to the intestines. Due to bacterial infection or accumulation of fecoliths, the appendix can become inflamed. This can further cause sharp pain in the abdomen and pelvis.

appendicitis

Acute appendicitis may need surgical intervention in order to avoid the risk of peritonitis.

Constipation

Constipation is quite a simple but very common cause of pelvic pain. When you have a tough time clearing your bowels, the accumulating fecal material may harden in your intestines. These put a strain on the abdominal walls. Sneezing and coughing might increase the pressure and thus triggers pelvic pain.

Crohn’s Disease

The condition responsible for the inflammation of your digestive tract is known as Crohn’s disease. This causes abdominal and pelvic pain, severe diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. It might also cause malnutrition and may lead to other secondary life-threatening conditions.

The site of inflammation in the digestive tract differs in different individuals. The inflammation might not be limited to a singular site and may spread to deeper layers of the digestive tract.

Colon Cancer

Cancer that starts in the large intestines aka colon is termed colon cancer. It can occur in all ages but older adults are more vulnerable to this form of cancer. At first small growths called polyps are seen in the inner lining of the large intestines. These polyps are initially benign or non-cancerous.

But, with time they can become malignant. The polyps tend to produce little to no signs and symptoms at the very beginning. So, it is suggested by doctors to get yourself regularly checked.

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernia indicates the state when part of your intestines protrudes out of a weak region in the abdominal muscles. It creates a bulge in your pelvis or lower abdomen. Sneezing and coughing can put more pressure and cause the bulge to expand and cause pain.

Painful Bladder Syndrome

 Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome is a chronic condition indicating inflammation of the bladder. It causes pressure in the bladder, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain.  This condition increases the frequency of the need to urinate which might hamper the quality of life. 

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by extensive musculoskeletal pain. It can cause memory loss, fatigue, insomnia, and other stressful conditions. It is usually caused by the inability of the brain to properly process painful and non-painful signals.

This condition is usually triggered by trauma or physiological stress. In some cases, even a triggering agent might be absent. People with fibromyalgia may also suffer from tension headaches, disorders of the jaw (temporomandibular joint), irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones aka urolithiasis, nephrolithiasis, or renal calculi are deposits of mineral salts inside your kidney that harden up to form stones. Kidney stones may be formed due to an unhealthy diet, supplementary medication, underlying medical conditions, etc. 

It can be quite painful to pass kidney stones which in turn may cause pelvic pain. This pain can be triggered by sneezing or coughing.

Pelvic Pain in Men

Following two conditions are only noticed in men. Take a look at them: 

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a condition that occurs exclusively in men. When rhe inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland occurs, it is called Prostatitis. The prostate gland is a small gland positioned directly below the urinary bladder. It is responsible for the production of fluid that nourishes the sperms.

Prostatitis may lead to pain during urination. It also causes pain in the pelvis, groin, or genitals. In some cases, it can also give rise to flu-like symptoms.

Testicular Disorders

Testicular disorders may lead to pelvic pain that gets worse with sneezing and coughing. The testis might suffer some trauma, infection, or inflammation. This, in turn, radiates pain to the pelvis. There can be a pain in the genitals along with difficulty in urination.

Pelvic Pain in Women

There might be conditions in the female reproductive system that can give rise to pelvic pain when sneezing. Some of such causes are mentioned as follows:

Adenomyosis

Adenomyosis is a condition where the normal lining of the uterus known as endometrial tissue starts growing into the muscular wall of the uterus. The abnormally placed tissue changes timely with the rest of the endometrium.

 As a result, it can cause the uterus to enlarge and have painful periods and heavy bleedings. 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition that is caused due to endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. It usually occurs in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the inner lining of the pelvis. The displaced endometrial tissue works like normal endometrial tissue. 

It thickens, breaks down, and causes bleeding. Since the broken tissue and blood can’t get out, it starts to accumulate. It affects the surrounding tissues and may cause scar formation and adhesion causing the surrounding organs and pelvic tissue to stick to each other.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer may be caused due to the formation of abnormal cells in the ovary. The cells can multiply quickly and haphazardly. It causes invasion and destruction of surrounding healthy body tissue.  People with old age, familial history, overweight, endometriosis, etc, are at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

An infection of the female reproductive organs is known as Pelvic inflammatory disease. It is usually occurred by sexually transmitted bacterias that travel to your uterus. Initially, the signs and symptoms are quite subtle or mild. But, with time, it may give rise to infertility and chronic pelvic pain.

Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps are prone to causing pelvic pain. It can be triggered by sneezing or coughing. Menstrual cramps are usually throbbing or sharp pain in the lower abdomen that occur before or during menstrual periods. In some cases, the pain can be severe enough to hamper day-to-day activities.

Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Pelvic pain during pregnancy is quite a common phenomenon. If you catch a cold and you’re having to sneeze from time to time, then it might feel like the pain is being triggered from the sneezing. Here are a few reasons why you might feel pelvic pain when sneezing while you’re pregnant.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An abnormally located pregnancy, one that is not in the uterus which is the usual place for implantation, is known as ectopic pregnancy. The rupture of an ectopic pregnancy can cause severe pain and it is a medical emergency. Surgical intervention is necessary.

Normal Change of Pregnancy

A womans body goes through an extensive amount of change during pregnancy. The pelvis expands and the organs are shifted as the baby grows inside. So, it is quite normal to have some pain. If there are any adverse symptoms then you should get checked by your doctor.

Miscarriage

A miscarriage that has occured or is spontaneously occurring can cause pelvic pain. The contents of the uterus may be expelled along with bleeding during a miscarriage. 

Adnexal torsion

It is a condition where the ovary twists around the supporting ligaments which cuts outfits blood supply. It might not be directly related to pregnancy but it frequently occurs during pregnancy. This condition is notorious for producing pelvic pain.

Digestive and Urinary Tract Disorders

Different disorders related to the digestive and urinary tract can cause pelvic pain during pregnanacy. 

These pains can get worse while sneezing. Some of these conditions are, Gastroenteritis, Irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, kidney stones, urinary tract infection, Inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

Accompanying Symptoms

Pelvic pain when sneezing might not always be limited to the pain in the pelvis. There might be other signs and symptoms that vary according to the underlying cause. Here are a few symptoms that you might experience with pelvic pain:

  • Dysmenorrhea or worsening menstrual cramps
  • Pain during your periods
  • Bleeding or spotting throughout the month
  • Burning pain during urination
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Change in bowel habit
  • Feeling gassy
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention
  • Blood in stool
  • Blood in urine
  • Painful intercourse
  • Fever with chills
  • Dull pain in the hips
  • Dull pain in the pelvis
  • Aggravating pain with movement 

Make sure to look out for other symptoms along with your pelvic pain. This would help you to identify adverse signs and would provide the doctor with the necessary information for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. 

Pain Management

It is important to keep track of your symptoms in order for your health care provider to identify and provide you with appropriate treatment. Your healthcare provider will provide you with a treatment plan based on the following aspects:

  • Your previous medical history
  • The progression of your condition
  • The underlying cause of the condition
  • You hypersensitivities and tolerance to any specific type of medication
  • Your preferences
  • Expectations from the treatment plan and therapies

The doctor may treat your pain after running thorough tests. They may consider the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Analgesics
  • Exercises for relaxation
  • Oral contraceptives in case of women
  • Surgical intervention if necessary
  • Physical therapies

In the rare cases that a physical cause isn’t found then, counselling might be suggested to tackle chronic pain. Multidisciplinary therapies have been proved to give better results.

FAQs

Question- What causes pelvic pain when sneezing?

Answer- There can be several causes behind pelvic pain when sneezing. It can be infections or inflammations of the intestines, problems with your urinary bladder, disorders of the prostrate or testes in case of men and, mentrustion and pregnancy related problems in case of women.

Question- Why do I get sharp pain on he uterus when I sneeze?

Answer- Pain in the uterus while sneezing can indicate problems like endometriosis or ovarian disorders. If you are pregnant it can also indicate pressure on the ligaments or some kind of torsion. It is best to get in contact with your doctor to avoid complications. 

Question- How do I know that pelvic pain is serious?

Answer- If you have a changed bowel habit, bleeding with stool or urine, chronic pain, consistent sharp pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fever along with your pelvic pain then it is best to consult your doctor. It might indicate some serious underlying conditions.

Question- Can a sneeze cause a hernia?

Answer- It maybe surprising, but yes, sneezing can cause hernias. If you are suffering from violent sneezing attacks and can’t seem to calm down your sneezing, then there is a slight chance that it might lead to a groin hernia.

Question- Why does the bottom of my stomach hurt when I sneeze while pregnant?

Answer- Women while pregnant can experience pain around the pelvis and lower abdomen while sneezing. It can cause discomfort but it is not necessarily dangerous. It occurs due to the streching of the round ligament around the uterus.

Final Words

Pelvic pain when sneezing is quite a common but uncomfortable phenomenon. It usually involves the digestive tract, the urinary organ, or the reproductive organs. There can be extensive causes for women who are pregnant.

Whatever the cause behind this it necessary to look out for your symptoms and to contact your doctor for a proper treatment regimen.

Sabriha Hasan

Sabriha Hasan

I'm Sabriha Hasan, a 3rd year medical student from Armed Forces Medical College. I chose to study medicine to do something for the greater good and to use my skills and knowledge to provide relief to those who are suffering. Writing is second nature to me. I always try to provide readers with necessary information that would not only quench their thirst for knowledge but also help them in long run.

Wholesomealive.com -a blog about Healthy Living
Logo