Purpose of review
Pelvic pain is a common complaint of women that is frequently poorly managed. This review considers the current understanding of the mechanisms of pain perception and the development of chronic pain in the context of three gynaecological pain conditions. Recent advances in the management of these conditions are then discussed.
Persistent pelvic pain is associated with central changes, reflected by alterations in psychology, brain structure and function, and dysfunction of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The many similarities among the conditions support the notion that chronic pain should be treated as a symptom in its own right, however, obtaining a diagnosis remains important to patients. Few new treatments have been developed recently, however, older treatments are being subjected to more rigorous testing and improvements in phenotyping should lead to better design of clinical trials.
Good quality, well designed clinical trials are urgently required to improve the treatment of pelvic pain in women. However, a variety of successful treatments exist and outcomes can be optimized by individualizing treatment strategies in the context of a multidisciplinary package.