Types of stomach pain in females: causes & symptoms

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    Every woman’s body is a unique and intricate system. Sometimes, it communicates its distress through various signals, like abdominal pain. The types of stomach pain – female is a common symptom of health issues ranging from relatively benign discomfort to indicators of serious underlying issues that require prompt medical attention. Discover more as Bloom Financial Services uncovers the complex landscape of abdominal pain in women, exploring the reasons and presenting potential solutions for relief, including diet, lifestyle adjustments and home remedies.

    What is stomach pain?

    Stomach pain refers to discomfort or distress in the abdominal region, often experienced as aching, cramping, or sharp stabbing sensations. This pain arises from the intricate composition of organs like the stomach, liver, intestines, and reproductive organs in the abdominal region. Causes range from colicky pain, indigestion or muscle strain to more severe conditions such as infections, inflammation, or organ dysfunction. The pain’s intensity, duration, and specific location will vary so recognising and addressing types of stomach pain – female promptly is crucial, as it assists in a diagnosis and possible treatment.

    Types of stomach pain – female

    It’s crucial to recognise the complex nature of abdominal pain and types of stomach pain – female as it can be a symptom of gynaecological, gastrointestinal, or systemic issues, among others. Some of the main causes of abdominal pain include:

    1. Menstrual cramps. This is also known as dysmenorrhea and occurs in the lower abdominal and pelvic area before and during menstruation. It’s caused by the uterus contracting to shed its lining. Hormones can exacerbate the problem as these contribute to uterine contractions, contributing to the pain. The cramps range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. Over-the-counter painkillers can remedy this discomfort. 
    2. Ovulation pain. This is a brief and localised discomfort experienced by women during the release of an egg from the ovary. This typically occurs midway through the menstrual cycle and occurs on one side of the lower abdomen, coinciding with the side where the egg is released. Ovulation pain is a natural indicator of fertility and occurs due to the stretching of the ovarian wall and the release of follicular fluid. The pain is usually sharp and lasts only a short duration. 
    3. Endometriosis. This is a chronic condition where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The misplaced tissues respond to hormonal changes, which causes inflammation, scarring and adhesions. This occurrence causes complex pain. Women with endometriosis experience severe pelvic pain including cramping. The severity of endometriosis pain will vary amongst individuals and based on the severity of the condition. In addition to causing abdominal pain, it can also affect daily life and fertility. Following diagnosis, women with endometriosis are advised to manage the condition with medication or surgery, to improve their quality of life.
    4. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is an infection of the female reproductive organs caused by sexually transmitted bacteria, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. The infection reaches from the cervix to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, causing inflammation and scarring. The pain can range from mild to severe and is often accompanied by an abnormal vaginal discharge, fever and painful urination. Prompt medical attention is critical to preserve a woman’s reproductive health.
    5. Urinary tract infection (UTI). This is a bacterial infection of the urinary system. It is caused by E. coli and typically involves a painful, burning sensation during urination. Other symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate, and cloudy or pungent urine. The pain associated with a UTI extends to the lower abdomen and pelvic region. If the infection reaches the kidneys then back pain and fever can occur. Prompt medical attention, including the use of prescribed medication, like antibiotics, is required to treat this infection and relieve the abdominal discomfort. 
    6. Ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. The pain stems from the expanding tissue, which causes severe abdominal pain on one side of the body. As the ectopic pregnancy progresses, symptoms include vaginal bleeding and shoulder pain associated with internal bleeding. Ectopic pregnancies pose a severe health risk. Urgent medical or surgical attention is required. 
    7. Gastrointestinal disorders. This encompasses a wide spectrum of conditions affecting the digestive system and causing types of stomach pain – female. Some of the more common gastrointestinal disorders include:
    • Irritable bowel disorder (IBS). This is a functional condition of the digestive system involving either diarrhoea or constipation. The pain can vary in intensity and usually involves cramping. IBS symptoms are often triggered by certain factors, like food, stress or hormonal changes. Lifestyle and dietary modifications are required to alleviate the symptoms. 
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is an autoimmune disease and usually involves two types of disorders: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. The conditions cause inflammation, resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and general fatigue. Ulcerative colitis occurs in the lower left quadrant and affects the colon and rectum while Crohn’s Disease persists in the lower right quadrant and impacts parts of the digestive tract. Both conditions are characterised by periods of flare-up and remission. Lifestyle adjustments are often required to improve a person’s quality of life. 
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease. This condition causes stomach acids to flow back into the oesophagus, which leads to heartburn, and a severe burning sensation in the chest and upper abdomen. The pain is usually worse when lying down. Dietary modifications are required to control this condition. 
    • Gastritis. This is inflammation of the stomach lining caused by irritation factors like excessive alcohol consumption or stress, which can cause upper abdominal pain that feels like a burning sensation. The pain is also accompanied by nausea, vomiting and bloating. Gastritis can be acute or long-term, causing erosion of the stomach lining over time. Medications can be used to reduce the toxic level of stomach acid and lifestyle modifications can be applied to promote healing. 
    • Gallstones. These are hardened deposits that form in the gallbladder. The stones develop when a substance, like cholesterol, becomes concentrated which leads to crystallisation. Gallstones vary in size and can obstruct the normal flow of bile. The result is a sharp, intense cramping pain in the upper right abdomen. Typical symptoms include feeling bloated, nausea and vomiting. The pain is felt more intensely after meals and can even radiate to the back and shoulder blades. Treatments include surgical intervention to alleviate the symptoms. 
    • Peptic ulcers. This is an open sore that develops on the inner lining of the stomach, upper small intestine or oesophagus. The pain associated with this condition is a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. It usually occurs between meals and also includes bloating, nausea, and vomiting and can result in weight loss. Treatment plans are available to manage the condition. Sometimes, lifestyle adjustments and dietary changes are required to alleviate the symptoms. 
    1. Gynaecological cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that develop within the reproductive organs, like the ovaries. The pain associated with cysts will vary based on their type and size. A small cyst could cause mild discomfort while a larger cyst could cause severe pain and may even rupture. Surgical intervention is usually required. 
    2. Appendicitis. This is inflammation of the appendix, which is a small organ located in the right of the abdomen. The condition occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, which leads to bacterial overgrowth and swelling. The inflammation that results causes intense abdominal pain. The pain starts around the naval (or bellybutton) area and shifts to the lower right side of the abdomen. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and tenderness in the affected area can be experienced. Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention. Surgical removal is the standard treatment. If it is not treated promptly, the inflamed appendix could rupture, leading to a severe and life-threatening infection. 
    3. Kidney stones. These are solid deposits that are formed from minerals and salts in the kidneys. The stones can vary in size and cause significant abdominal pain as they move through the urinary tract. The pain is known as renal colic. It is sharp and severe and is located in the lower abdomen and groin. As the stones obstruct the urinary flow, additional symptoms like bloody urine and nausea can occur. Passing kidney stones is a very painful experience. Medical attention can be required if the stones are too large to pass naturally.

    Ways to reduce abdominal pain

    Reducing or alleviating abdominal pain in women often involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, home remedies, and medical interventions. Here are some strategies:

    • Over-the-counter medication. Painkillers, like Ibuprofen, can manage mild to moderate pain associated with menstrual cramps or gastrointestinal discomfort. 
    • Heat therapy. Apply a hot water bottle or compress, or take a hot bath to help relax muscles and relieve some types of abdominal pain, particularly menstrual cramps or muscle tension. 
    • Dietary changes, Many types of abdominal pain are caused by food sensitivities or intolerance. Sometimes, you may need to reduce the intake of certain foods, like those with a high spice or fat content or cut out certain foods, like dairy, altogether. 
    • Keep hydrated. Drinking an adequate amount of water each day can support digestive health and alleviate constipation, which is a common cause of abdominal discomfort. 
    • Stress management. Meditation, breathing techniques and exercises, like yoga and pilates can help manage abdominal pain. 
    • Medical treatments. A healthcare professional may prescribe medication, like antispasmodics for IBS, to address specific abdominal issues. 
    • Gynaecological intervention. Many types of abdominal pain in women are due to gynaecological issues. Women who are experiencing severe symptoms can elect to undergo certain surgical procedures, like having cysts removed, to alleviate the discomfort. 

    Call a doctor. If an individual’s symptoms are severe, it’s recommended to seek healthcare attention from a medical professional. Women can invest in healthcare coverage that includes day-to-day benefits and specialist benefits that are focused on female health concerns.

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    Embark on a journey to understand types of stomach pain – female, by addressing the causes and exploring possible solutions to alleviate the pain, which can lead to a healthier and more comfortable life. Get affordable healthcare for women, which includes maternity and specialist benefits, including gastroenterology. Contact our office to speak to a trained consultant to discuss your options.

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