Abdominal Pain - Female
Anatomy - Gastrointestinal
- Pain or discomfort in the abdomen. This is the area below the rib cage and above the thighs.
- There are many causes of abdominal pain. Most causes are not serious. Mild stomach pain can be caused by an upset stomach, gas pains, or eating too much. There are many organs in the abdomen that can also cause pain.
- In women, pain can also be caused by female organs or pregnancy. All women of childbearing age with abdominal pain should consider the chance that they are pregnant.
- Stomach pain is more likely to be serious in an older person.
- None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.
Common Causes of Stomach Pain in Women Younger Than 50 Years of Age
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Gallbladder disease
- Nonspecific abdominal pain
- Ovarian cyst
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Spontaneous abortion
Common Causes of Stomach Pain in Women Older Than 50 Years of Age
- Bowel obstruction
- Gallbladder disease
- Peptic ulcer disease
When to call your doctor
Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If
- Passed out (fainted)
- Very weak (can't stand)
- You think you have a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- You feel weak or very sick
- Severe stomach pain
- Constant stomach pain lasts more than 2 hours
- Vomiting blood or black (looks like coffee-grounds)
- Vomiting bile (green color)
- Vomiting and stomach looks more swollen than normal
- Blood in bowel movements (black or red color, or looks like tar)
- Recent injury to the stomach
- Fever of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher
- Fever of 100.5°F (38.1°C) or higher and over 60 years old
- Fever and have diabetes
- Fever and have a weak immune system from:
- HIV positive
- Cancer chemo
- Long-term steroid use
- Fever and are bedridden (nursing home patient, stroke, chronic illness, or recovering from surgery)
- Whites of the eyes have turned yellow
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
- You think you need to be seen
- Pain comes and goes (cramps), and lasts more than 24 hours
- Abnormal vaginal discharge with bad odor or yellow, gray, or green in color
- Over 60 years old
- Pregnant or could be pregnant (missed last period)
- Blood in urine
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
- You have had stomach pains off and on for weeks or months
- Pain with sex
Self Care at Home If
- Mild stomach pain
CARE ADVICE FOR MILD ABDOMINAL PAIN
- What You Should Know:
- Mild stomach pain can be caused by an upset stomach, gas pains, or eating too much. Sometimes mild stomach pain is the first sign of a vomiting illness like stomach flu.
- You can treat mild stomach pain at home.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Rest: Lie down and rest until you feel better.
- Fluids: Sip only clear fluids until the pain is gone for over 2 hours. Clear fluids include water, broth, and water mixed with fruit juice. Then slowly return to a normal diet.
- Start with clear liquids. When you feel better, you can begin eating a bland diet.
- Avoid alcohol or drinks that have caffeine in them.
- Avoid greasy or fatty foods.
- Pass A Bowel Movement (BM): Sit on the toilet and try to pass a BM. Do not strain. Having a BM can help pain caused by diarrhea or constipation.
- Avoid Medicines: Any drug can bother the stomach lining and make the stomach pain worse. This happens more often when you take drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. Do not take any pain or fever medicines or other drugs for stomach cramps.
- What to Expect: With harmless causes, the pain most often goes away within 2 hours. With stomach flu, the pain may come and go for 2-3 days. You may have belly cramps before you throw up or have diarrhea. If your pain does not stop and gets worse, it may be more serious.
- Pregnancy Test, When in Doubt:
- If there is a chance that you might be pregnant, use a urine pregnancy test.
- You can buy a pregnancy test at the drugstore.
- It works best first thing in the morning.
- Follow all package instructions.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Severe stomach pain occurs
- Stomach pain is constant and lasts more than 2 hours
- Stomach pains come and go, and last more than 24 hours
- You get worse
Author: David A. Thompson, M.D.
Last reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last revised: 6/11/2013 10:59:37 AM