There are so many causes of pelvic pain, which might be making it tricky to pinpoint the reason for yours. Pelvic pain can be a result of various gynecological conditions, from sexually transmitted diseases to cancer treatment side effects and pelvic abnormalities. However, there is one often-overlooked condition that causes pelvic pain: SIBO.
Let’s take a look at what SIBO is. SIBO stands for Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which results in a problem with movement around the small intestines. Your your small bowel will usually push bacteria, food residue, digestive enzymes and bowel secretions through every couple of hours, but this process can become compromised.
The bacteria that is meant to reside in the colon is stuck in the small intestine, which starts to harbour the bacteria. This then reproduces rapidly and creates an imbalance. We are supposed to have some level of bacteria in the small intestine, but the body usually keeps this in check.
Conditions that cause SIBO (which in turn causes pelvic pain)
- Autoimmune disease scleroderma (which damages small intestine muscles)
- Diabetes (which damages gut nerves)
- Diverticulitis of the small intestine
- Certain kinds of surgery
- A fistula between the small intestine and colon
- Bowel obstructions
- Crohn’s disease
- Conditions that reduce stomach acid
- Excessive alcohol consumption or pain killer abuse
- Food poisoning
SIBO symptoms that may be causing pelvic pain
Your SIBO symptoms will depend on which kinds of bacteria are trapped in your small intestine, but the following symptoms are commonly felt by sufferers of SIBO, and could be among the primary causes of their pelvic pain:
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Excessive gas
There are also other symptoms of SIBO that, although debilitating, do not cause pelvic pain. For instance:
- Malnutrition (as the bacteria are consuming your nutrients)
- Vitamin A, K and B12 deficiency
- Deficiencies in iron, niacin, or thiamine
- Brain fog
SIBO Tests and Treatments
You can diagnose SIBO by simply having a Doctor test your breath for hydrogen or methane gas–both byproducts of bacteria. The sugar breakdown in the gut can be detected in your breath.
Doctors will often take you off medications that might be causing SIBO, and put you on a course of antibiotics. They might also prescribe medication to encourage the small intestine to flush through every couple of hours, as it naturally would when not compromised.
You can address SIBO naturally through a liquid diet, which stabilizes the bacteria in the small intestine. You may need to cut down on carbohydrates and fiber, and especially sugar; instead you will introduce more protein to your diet. It may sound counter-intuitive, but probiotics have been known to worsen SIBO.
As we mentioned, there are various possible causes of pelvic pain, like pudendal neuralgia or even vaginal stenosis. If you’re not sure what’s behind it, it is worth getting a SIBO test. Suffering is not an inevitability – it is simply a question of pinpointing the reason for your pelvic pain and devising a realistic strategy to overcome it.
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