In this health video learn about the problems and strange solutions that surround chronic pelvic pain.
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Female Speaker: Sun, surf, sand, you may think living in Delray Beach, Florida is living the good life. But for 20-year old Jaime Wilson most of her days are spent scheduled around her pain, something she's been coping with since she was 14. Jaime Wilson: When I'd walk it would just feel really tight and that's how it felt at first but then it gets almost like a stabbing like needles kind of and like a burning. Female Speaker: Jaime's mother Robin took her to a gynecologist for answers. They were told the pain was due to ruptured cysts on her ovaries and she was given medication. Jaime Wilson: So they put me on hormones like birth control pills to try to control my hormone level. Female Speaker: But the pills didn't work and Jaime was in constant pain. Jaime Wilson: It was just taking over my life and there had to be a better treatment than what I was having or something different. Female Speaker: Jaime was not alone in her search for the cause of her pain. Doctors say about one in fifty visits to a gynecologist is for chronic pelvic pain. Jaime eventually discovered she had endometriosis. Simply put, chronic pelvic pain is pain below the navel in the pelvic area that lingers for six months or longer. Endometriosis lesions occur when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus is found in other areas of the body, causing pain. Over time inflammation may lead to scar tissue not to mention severe discomfort. At Brigham And Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Doctor Robert Barbieri is the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Robert Barbieri: A woman with endometriosis might have a dozen of these ulcers spread around the inside of the body, each one the size the head of a pin. But even though they're very small, these lesions, they can be associated with very intense pain. Female Speaker: There are several approaches to treating endometriosis, depending on a woman's symptoms and whether she wants to have children. The two most common ones are laparoscopic surgery, or hormones to help regulate hormone levels in the body. In most cases women can find relief with these treatments, but Jaime's was an extreme and severe form of the condition, and especially difficult to treat. Robert Barbieri: Many people get excellent relief with either surgical therapy alone or hormonal therapy or the combination. A subgroup of people won't get relief with that simple first line therapy; those people should approach the problem using a multi-disciplinary team. Female Speaker: That team can consist of a gynecologist, an anesthesiologist, a psychologist and an acupuncturist. Each can offer a variety of pain reduction techniques. Even after repeated surgeries, Jaime still experiences pain. She has deep tissue endometriosis, which means she has deep lesions that are hard to reach and hard to remove. As for her future, someday Jaime says, she'd like to start a family. Jaime Wilson: I have no idea what will happen next month or what my future holds, probably eventually have to have a hysterectomy after I have had children my goal is to definitely have children one day so I'm holding off on that as long as possible. Female Speaker: But, there are some conditions that have no known physical causes. And some women experience chronic pain of the vulva. Dr. Gloria Bachmann is the Associate Dean for women's health at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Gloria Bachmann: When we talk about pain, women experiencing pain, we often think of a sexually transmitted disease causing pain or endometriosis. However there are up to 16% of American women who experience a chronic pain in the vulva and the vagina area and this is termed Vulvodynia. Female Speaker: Lisa Ellin started her search for answers more than ten years ago. Many times her doctor visits would leave her confused and frustrated. Lisa Ellin: So, it was very difficult to find treatment and I think that's a very common experience for women. It's very common to feel li