Pelvic pain affects as many as 1 in 7 women in the U.S. Our multidisciplinary Pelvic Pain Center at the University of Chicago Medicine helps women access treatment at one central location. There, patients can receive a comprehensive pelvic pain evaluation, physical therapy consultation and pain management plan all in one visit. 

Our Pelvic Pain Center brings together the expertise of minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons, chronic pelvic pain specialists, anesthesiologists and pelvic floor physical therapists to diagnose and treat patients with pelvic pain. Our experienced pelvic pain specialists work together to help patients return to their active lives.

What is pelvic pain?

Chronic pelvic pain is recurring pain in the pelvis — below the belly button or in the vaginal area for over six months. Some women may have constant pain and others may only experience pelvic pain during intercourse or while lifting a heavy object. In many cases, pelvic pain will come and go with menstruation. Chronic pelvic pain often becomes progressively worse if left untreated and can interrupt daily activities. The range of causes and symptoms — along with a shortage of trained specialists — can lead to a lack of awareness about how to diagnose and treat pelvic pain.

Our Unique Approach to Treating Pelvic Pain in Women

Our goal at the Pelvic Pain Center is to dig deeper to find the core cause of a patient’s pelvic pain. We treat typical gynecological causes of pelvic pain, such as endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts. We also treat non-gynecological causes, such as pelvic floor muscle tension, myalgia and central nervous sensitization. We look at each patient as a whole and not just their reproductive organs.

Many patients come to the Pelvic Pain Center after visiting other physicians and trying multiple therapies with no relief. This is because an ultrasound can sometimes help physicians find the source of a patient’s pelvic pain, but this is not always the case. Without a diagnosis, it’s difficult to treat pelvic pain properly.

Female Pelvic Pain Symptoms

Chronic pelvic pain occurs in your vaginal area or pelvis, below the belly button, for over six months. You may feel pain in your hips or back as well.
Pelvic pain can vary in severity and duration, and every person can experience pain differently. Pain associated with your period tends to be sharp and cramping. Pelvic pain with sexual intercourse can feel like a burning sensation or as if your partner is hitting a wall. Heavy lifting can cause a dull ache or tugging sensation.
Pelvic pain can occur at any age, beginning in the reproductive years through post-menopause. The cause of pelvic pain tends to differ in different age groups.

Teenagers with chronic pelvic pain should be evaluated for endometriosis. Trauma and anxiety can often contribute to pain in this age group as well.

Patients in their main reproductive years (20s to 40s) can have pain due to endometriosis, fibroids, occupational body stressors, birth trauma and/or other trauma.

Post-menopausal patients often feel pain during intercourse due to the lack of estrogen. Post-menopausal women also are at an increased risk for arthritis and osteoporosis, which can lead to pelvic pain due to hip and back issues.

Women with chronic pelvic pain can also experience gastrointestinal issues, such as chronic constipation or pain with bowel movements. They can experience urinary symptoms, such as struggling to empty the bladder or pain during urination.

Chronic back pain and leg pain are often associated with pelvic pain as well.

There are gynecologic and non-gynecologic causes of chronic pelvic pain.

Gynecologic reasons for pelvic pain include the following:

Non-gynecologic for pelvic pain include the following:

Because the causes and severity of pelvic pain differ for each person, recovery varies too. Most patients gradually feel better with some physical therapy and pain medication. You may need multiple treatments over months to feel full relief. Our goal is to get you to a place where you’re able to do the activities you want to do again.

Diagnosing the Cause of Pelvic Pain in Women

When you visit the Pelvic Pain Center, your physician will discuss your health history and examine you. The provider will ask about your pelvic pain and any other pain disorders you may be experiencing. Many patients have multiple pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. Some patients also suffer from mental health conditions, like depression, anxiety and PTSD, due to trauma or the pain itself. We approach pelvic pain care holistically by treating the whole patient.

Almost all pelvic pain patients will need a pelvic ultrasound as a first step in diagnosis. In some cases, you may need an MRI or CT scan to help the provider diagnose the cause of your pelvic pain.

Female Pelvic Pain Treatment Options

Our multidisciplinary treatment approach at the UChicago Medicine Pelvic Pain Center includes several modalities. The treatment plan varies depending on each patient’s needs.

Most patients benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy. Pain relief medication may include medicated vaginal suppositories, muscle relaxants and nerve medications. Some patients require pelvic floor trigger point injections and nerve blocks for pain relief. Others with more complex gynecologic causes of pelvic pain require surgery.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Most patients benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy. Our physical therapists work together with physicians on-site to make accessing care more convenient.


Therapies include oral or vaginal muscle relaxants, neuromodulators, hormonal medications in different forms.


We offer procedural interventions for pain, including pelvic floor trigger point injections (with and without Botox), pudendal nerve blocks, pudendal nerve ablations, hypogastric nerve blocks and sacral nerve stimulators.


We offer minimally invasive gynecologic surgery with fellowship trained surgeons focusing on complex endometriosis, fibroids and pelvic scar tissue. Our providers can complete both traditional laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery for multiple gynecologic conditions.

At the Pelvic Pain Center, there’s no delay in care — and a faster path to pain relief. We bring members of the care team — the gynecologist, the physical therapist and the anesthesiologist — all together in one office. This makes multidisciplinary care more accessible and convenient. Instead of waiting several weeks after the physician appointment for physical therapy, for example, you can see one of our pelvic floor physical therapists during the same visit. If needed, you can also access the anesthesia pain clinic on the same day.

Meet Our Team of Pelvic Pain Practitioners

Schedule an appointment online for a pelvic pain evaluation with one of our minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons in River East or Hyde Park.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists

  • Kenarr Matoesian, PT
  • Sarah Macaraeg, PT
  • Rene Lederman, PT

Visit Our Pelvic Pain Centers in River East and Hyde Park