The Difference Between Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis

a woman experiencing pelvic pain

It’s no surprise that pelvic pain and endometriosis are often categorized together. These two conditions are very similar when it comes to symptoms, and even share some of the same treatments. It’s important to note, however, that while pelvic pain is a common symptom of endometriosis, it doesn’t ensure that endometriosis is the main cause of pelvic pain.

Pelvic pain can be caused by a variety of issues within the reproductive, digestive, or urinary systems. Endometriosis on the other hand is a specific disorder in which the tissue similar to the endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus, grows outside of your uterus. Endometriosis solely affects the reproductive system, and most commonly affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining of the pelvis.

The pelvic pain associated with endometriosis occurs when the endometrial-like tissue functions similarly to how the actual endometrial tissue would. Normally, the endometrial tissue thickens breaks down, and bleeds, so when the endometrial-like tissue acts in this same way, it is unable to leave the body and becomes trapped, which causes pelvic pain. 

The Symptoms

While pelvic pain occurs as a symptom of endometriosis, it can usually be pinpointed during or around the menstrual cycle. Pelvic pain may also be present during intercourse, or with bowel movements or urination. It’s important to note that pelvic pain is not typically the sole symptom of endometriosis. Symptoms such as excessive bleeding and infertility may also indicate endometriosis. If pelvic pain is the only symptom you’re experiencing, it may be caused by a separate medical condition.

Making a Diagnosis

Not only do both endometriosis and pelvic pain overlap in the area of the body where the pain is felt, but they also require similar procedures in order to provide a diagnosis. Certain tests such as pelvic exams, ultrasounds, MRIs, and laparoscopy can also be used to help distinguish whether the pelvic pain is caused by endometriosis or a different condition. The main difference between diagnosing pelvic pain is that your doctor may also administer lab tests or bloodwork to rule out possible sexually transmitted infections or urinary tract infections.

Other Conditions That May Cause Pelvic Pain

The best way to identify the cause of your pelvic pain is by speaking with your doctor. Even if the source of the pelvic pain is related to the reproductive system, there are many different conditions aside from endometriosis that may be the cause of the pain. Possible conditions include ovarian cysts, muscle spasms, and adhesions. Treatments will vary depending on the root cause of the pain, so in order to start feeling your best, reach out to the team at Kernodle OB/GYN to make an appointment.


Depending on the diagnosis you receive from your doctor, there may be various treatment plans available. While there is currently no known cure for endometriosis, there are options available to help manage the condition. Some of these treatment options, such as pain medications, hormone therapy, and certain surgeries, may be applicable to help treat or manage both endometriosis and other conditions resulting in pelvic pain. Other conditions resulting in pelvic pain may require pelvic floor therapy, specified medications or visits with specialized doctors such as a urologist.

Talk to Your OB/GYN

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Kernodle OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women in Burlington and Mebane, NC. If you are experiencing pelvic pain and have any questions or concerns, call us at (336) 538-2367 to make an appointment.

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