Lower abdominal pain, or pelvic pain, is a very common medical condition associated with transient disorders or serious disease. While the condition affects both men and women, it’s more common in women. In fact, most if not all women will experience pain in the lower abdomen from time to time. This is particularly true among those women who are still ovulating and menstruating.
Most lower abdominal pain in women is minor, but it can be a symptom of a serious condition. If you feel pain in the lower abdomen accompanied by other symptoms of serious disease, such as acute pain, shortness of breath or high fever, for example, you should seek prompt medical care.
One of the reasons women experience lower abdominal aches is because they have more anatomical structures located in this part of the body. The pain may occur due to organs specific to females, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries as well as organs shared by all humans, such as the kidneys, urinary bladder and intestines. As a result, additional considerations are usually made when diagnosing the cause of lower abdominal aches in women.
More info here Lower Abdominal Pain in Men Causes and Treatments
Common Causes of Lower Abdominal Pain in Women
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is a bacterial infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes. It sometimes can affect the ovaries as well. The bacteria travel into the womb from the vagina or cervix. PID is caused by a variety of agents, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Women who have had a recent abortion, change in sexual partner, surgical procedure performed on the uterus, insertion of a contraceptive coil, or a previous episode of PID or STI are at greater risk of developing the disease. In addition to lower abdominal pain, other symptoms of the disease include: abdominal vaginal discharge, fever, pain during sex, and abnormal virginal bleeding. If left untreated, PID can lead to serious complications such as infertility or persistent pelvic pain.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) (also known as bladder infection or acute cystitis)
UTI is another very common bacterial infection, affecting about 50 percent of all women at some point in their lives. It occurs when the bacteria present in the vagina and anal area migrate upward through the external opening to the urethra and travel into the kidney, causing kidney infection. Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing kidney infections. Other causative factors include: allergies, contraceptives, sexual activity, overuse or misuse of antibiotics, diabetes ad dehydration. The condition is characterized by burning sensation and pain with urination, chills and fever, pain during sexual intercourse, pain during ovulation and menstruation, abnormal smell and color of vaginal discharge, mid-back pain and nausea.
For more info you can read Dealing With Urinary Tract Infection
Dysmenorrhoea (or painful periods)
Abnormally difficult or painful menstruation is a very common cause of lower abdominal tenderness , especially in young women. It is thought to occur due to a release of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, which in turn causes vasoconstriction in the uterine vessels, leading to painful uterine contractions. Its causative factors include: smoking, developmental abnormalities, adhesions, PID, endometriosis, adenomyosis and fibroids.
Normal labor starts after 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you feel pelvic pain before completion of this period, seek prompt medical attention.
Bowel obstruction often causes lower abdominal soreness in women. The condition occurs when the small or large intestine is partly or completely blocked, preventing food, gas and fluids from moving through the gut. The blockage may be caused by a scar tissue, tumors, twisting of the intestines, cancer, or severe constipation. The narrowing of the intestine may be a result of a serious condition such as inflammatory bowel syndrome or diverticulitis.
Uncommon Causes of lower abdominal aches in women
This is an abnormal form of pregnancy, where the embryo implants outside the uterus. It happens in about 1 in 100 pregnancies; so it’s uncommon. A pregnant woman experiences severe, persistent abdominal in the lower left abdomen. Virginal bleeding may occur. The bleeding is often darker than the bleeding of a menstrual period.
Loss of pregnancy often causes lower abdominal cramps. It can occur anytime up to the 24th week. Majority of miscarriages (about 87.5 percent of all miscarriages) occur before the 13th week of pregnancy. Apart from lower abdominal distress, women experience vaginal bleeding and pelvic cramps. They may also pass some tissue from the vaginal opening, which looks like a blood clot.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in ovaries. These large ovarian follicles are completely harmless and cause no symptoms. But pain and irregular bleeding may occur when they twist (torsion of ovarian cyst) or rapture. In most cases, no treatment is required as the cysts often go away on their own.
Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix, a small tubular organ that comes off the gut wall. This condition is quite common, and its symptoms include lower abdominal pain and vomiting. Some women experience less typical symptoms. To treat the condition, the inflamed appendix is removed through a surgical procedure before it bursts (perforates). A perforated appendix is a serious condition that can cause health complications.
Mittelschmerz is a term used to describe ovulation pain. Women with this condition experience a sharp pain when an egg is released. The pain may occur on a different side of the abdomen, depending on which ovary releases the egg. It only lasts a few hours, but some victims find it severe.
This is a gynecological medical problem in which the endometrium (cells from the tissue that lines the uterus) appears and grows outside the uterine cavity. Clumps of tissue may grow on the outer walls of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, intestines and other organs in the belly. While it isn’t dangerous, it can cause lower abdominal agony in women as well as other problems such as heavy periods, bleeding after sex, or blood in the stool or urine.
Rare Causes of lower abdominal aches in women
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
This is a rare condition that occurs due to stimulation of the ovaries into superovulation with drugs such as human menopausal gonadotropin and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It is the most serious negative consequence of induction of ovulation, and may cause lower abdominal pain in women who use assisted conception techniques.
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
This is a serious but uncommon illness that occurs mostly in menstruating women who use high absorbency tampons as well as those who use barrier contraceptive methods (like the diaphragm). Symptoms of TSS include: a high fever, muscle aches, lightheadedness, dizziness, red eyes, a sunburn-like rash, diarrhea, vomiting, drops in blood pressure, and fainting. Prompt medical evaluation is critical to successful treatment of this disease.