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Chronic pelvic pain linked to suicides in young women

The steep rise in the number of young women dying by suicide is linked to chronic pelvic pain, says Dr Philip Hall, gynaecologist at St Stephen’s Hospital on the Fraser Coast and St Andrew’s Pelvic Medicine Centre in Brisbane.

In the lead-up to the 2016 Women’s Health Week, 5 to 9 September, and World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September, Dr Hall said women around the world including Australia were increasingly overdosing on prescription drugs or narcotics at alarming rates as they tried to ease chronic pain.

Dr Hall said a recent New York Times article highlighted research that shows about half of opioid overdose deaths involved prescription drugs.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March 2016 show suicide as the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 44 years. The rate of suicide in women aged 15-24 years jumped 50 per cent in the 10 years to 2014.

“Women’s pain was often associated with pelvic conditions such as Endometriosis, which affects one in 10 Australian women and 176 million women worldwide. Younger women can also experience significant menstrual pain,” Dr Hall said.

“Combined with bowel problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and bladder problems, the most common being Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome), pelvic pain is a major problem, affecting one in five women at some time in their lives.

“Chronic pelvic pain impacts on all aspects of women’s lives, not just the physical symptoms but also the financial, relationship, emotional and mental aspects. For reasons we don’t understand, the incidence of pelvic conditions is increasing.”

Dr Hall said most pelvic conditions required surgery and with each of those surgeries, women’s bodies became more sensitised to pain.