Video anchor 21.SEP.2018 4 MIN READ | 4 MIN READ

What is causing your lower abdominal pain?
The lower region of the abdomen is where your colon is located, and for women, your ovaries. Pain in this region may signal different types of health conditions arising from your intestines, urinary system or reproductive organs.

If the pain is persistent and increases in intensity, it is a sign to see the doctor or go to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department at a nearby hospital.

What could be causing pain in your lower abdominal region?

Is it your colon?

Your colon is also known as the large intestine. Some conditions that can occur in your colon:

Diverticulitis
If you experience the following symptoms, it could be diverticulitis, an inflammation of pouches in the wall of your intestines.

  • Cramping on the left side of your stomach
  • Bloody stools
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever

Appendicitis

This is an inflammation of the appendix at the end of your intestines. You may experience the following symptoms:

  • A dull pain that becomes sharp as it moves from upper to lower abdomen
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Painful urination

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a common digestive problem that affects your bowel habits. It displays the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Bloating and gas
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irregular bowel movements

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD refers to conditions affecting different parts of your colon, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Their symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss
  • Visible damage to the colon when viewed internally

Hernia

A hernia is the protrusion of your organs through the muscles or fat surrounding them. You may experience symptoms including:

  • An obvious lump or swelling
  • Pain when moving
  • A heavy feeling in your abdomen
  • Heartburn

Is it your urinary system?

Your bladder is located in the lower abdomen and stores urine. Some bladder problems can cause pain in your abdomen region. Common causes of bladder pain and their symptoms include:

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTI occurs when bacteria enters your urethra and infects your bladder, and can lead to kidney issues. Symptoms include:

  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Pain in your abdomen

Acute retention of urine

This occurs when you are unable to empty your bladder even if it’s full. You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Inability to urinate
  • Leaking urine, but not enough for relief

Bladder stones

These are hard masses made up of minerals in your urine. Look out for the symptoms:

  • Blood in urine
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Trouble urinating or an uneven flow
  • Cloudy or dark urine

Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer occurs when unusual cells develop in the bladder. Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • Pink, orange or dark red blood in urine
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Constant feeling of needing to urinate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Swollen feet and aching bones

When women experience lower abdominal pain

Abdominal pain can arise from your reproductive organs, originating from your ovaries, uterus (womb) or fallopian tubes.

Ovarian cyst

This is a fluid-filled pocket on your ovary. You may experience these symptoms:

  • Pain in the abdomen around the cyst
  • Bloating or swelling
  • Dizziness or weakness

Uterine fibroids

These are benign lumps that grow in the wall of the uterus. Symptoms include:

  • Particularly heavy periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Enlarged abdomen, resulting in pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Endometriosis

This condition occurs when the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus, causing scar tissue and lesions. Signs of endometriosis may include:

  • Extremely heavy periods
  • Severe pain in your abdomen, or migraines
  • Painful bowel movements or diarrhoea
  • Nausea

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is an infection of your reproductive organs. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Abnormally heavy or unpleasant discharge
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination

When men experience lower abdominal pain

It can be due to male-specific conditions, where lower abdominal pain is one of the symptoms.

Testicular torsion

A condition where the spermatic cord becomes twisted around your testicle, affecting blood supply. You may experience:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the testicle
  • Enlarged testicle
  • Tenderness in the region
  • Bruising

Prostatitis

This occurs when there is swelling or inflammation of the prostate, and can be due to a variety of factors. Symptoms to look out for:

  • Pain around the base of the penis
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Fever, chills, nausea or aches
  • Blood in your semen

What should you do next?

If you are suffering from severe abdominal pain, you should visit an A&E department.

If your pain is persistent but manageable, you should still make an appointment to see a doctor to uncover the possible causes of it. Your doctor may order tests and scans to determine your condition. You may be referred to a specialist who can help to diagnose and treat the cause of your pain.

 

Infographic reviewed by

Dr Eric Wee, gastroenterologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Dr Tan Yung Khan, urologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

Infographic brought to you by Health Plus

References

Appendicitis (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-appendicitis#1

A visual guide to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/ss/slideshow-inflammatory-bowel-overview

Ellsworth, P. (2017, November 21) Inability to Urinate. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.emedicinehealth.com/inability_to_urinate/article_em.htm#when_should_someone_seek_medical_care_for_an_inability_to_urinate

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/digestive-diseases-irritable-bowel-syndrome#2

Testicular Torsion (n.d.) Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/men/testicular-torsion

21.SEP.2018