Almost half (47%) of Australian women have experienced pelvic pain in the last five years, according to new research from Jean Hailes for Women’s Health.
Alarmingly half of women with pelvic pain did not discuss their symptoms with a doctor, with 35% of those surveyed feeling that nothing could be done. Only 19% of women felt they had the necessary information to manage their symptoms, and 69% felt their symptoms weren’t bad enough to justify a discussion with a doctor.
The findings are from the Pelvic Pain in Australian Women report, from the 2023 National Women’s Health Survey, a representative survey of Australian women aged 18 years and over.
“The findings tell us that women need to understand what is “normal” and what is not when it comes to pelvic pain. Pain is not normal, and women should not hide their suffering,” says Jean Hailes CEO Sarah White.
The research also demonstrated the impact of pelvic pain on women’s mental health, relationships, and capacity to work.
Close to half of those respondents impacted by pelvic pain indicated they also needed to take an extended break or stop exercise or work or study. Negative impacts also extended to respondents’ mental and emotional wellbeing (57%), and relationships with their partner (31%) and with friends and family (22%).
Sarah White says, “Findings from the 2023 National Women’s Health Survey suggest that the impact of pelvic pain on women and Australian economy are vastly underestimated.
With the prevalence of pelvic pain, general practitioners and other health professionals should proactively ask women whether they experience pelvic pain rather than wait for women to raise the issue themselves.”
Pelvic pain is felt in lower abdomen and lower back. It can include dull aching, or debilitating cramping or sharp, shooting pain. It may also cause pain while sitting for long periods of time, pain during intercourse and pain when inserting a tampon. Pelvic pain can also be symptomatic of chronic conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction, painful bladder syndrome, urinary tract infections and vulvodynia.
For more information on persistent pelvic pain, visit this webpage.
The Pelvic Pain in Australian Women report is one of a series of reports from the 2023 National Women’s Health Survey, a representative survey of Australian women aged 18 years and over. The Pelvic Pain in Australian Women report provides information of the proportion of adult Australian women experiencing pelvic pain, the impact of pelvic pain on daily activities, and the propensity for women to seek medical care for pelvic pain.
The Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey is an annual national study to understand the health information needs and behaviours of women living in Australia. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing has funded Jean Hailes for Women’s Health to conduct the National Women’s Health Survey since 2017.
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to women’s health. Jean Hailes provides clinical care, educational resources and evidence-based health information to all women, girls and gender-diverse people, and the health professionals who care for them.