Cancer-Related Pelvic Conditions

Women and Cancer

For women, chemotherapy and drugs can rapidly deplete the body of Estrogen and change hormonal balance. This frequently leads to multiple changes in vaginal tissues, the pelvic muscles, urinary system, digestive track and several other systems. Dryness in vaginal tissues can be very painful during intercourse and lead to sexual dysfunction. Chronic depletion of estrogen can also lead to vaginal atrophy, or shrinkage of the muscles surrounding the vagina. These muscles not only contribute to sexual function, but are also key in bowel and bladder function (urinary urgency, frequency or pain).

Surgeries, especially mastectomies, can also cause severe swelling or "lymphedema" in the body. Mastectomies can also cause problems and pain in the shoulder, upper back, neck and arms. Reconstructive breast surgeries can also lead to problems such as breast or shoulder pain from scarring.

Scarring from abdominal surgeries (after colon, ovarian, or cervical cancers) can also lead to pelvic problems such as constipation, abdominal pain and cramping, or even back pain.

Men and Cancer

For males, removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) can lead to scarring and irritation around the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. The scarring can also irritate local nerves and can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tailbone pain, urinary or bowel frequency or incontinence. It can also lead to sexual dysfunction such as painful intercourse or erectile dysfunction.