Groin Pain in Women Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Explained

By on July 31, 2013

If you thought groin pain only affects men then you are wrong. Women too experience female groin pain due to various causes though not related to the scrotum pain that is specific to men. It is true that many women experience groin pain symptoms but suffer silently.

Groin pain in women is similar to other body pains but is pain linked with the groin area (that part where the upper inner thigh meets with the lower abdomen). You may have experienced sharp groin pain of varying intensity.

In this article I will attempt to cover the following areas;

  1. What causes groin pain in women?
  2. Symptoms of groin pain in women
  3. When should you see a doctor regarding your groin pain
  4. Diagnosis of various groin pains in women
  5. Groin pain in women treatment 

Lucy a good friend of mine from Los Angeles, California, received an invitation to attend a working retreat across different nations from her boss. She had just arrived from a similar business journey the previous week.

In the itinerary she was to attend a convention in London, Turkey and then finally head to Jo Burg, South Africa for the final lap of the business trip and back to LA where she lives.

The trip was great but you and I know that when you travel long trips with very short breaks in between and end up sitting for long hours then something is bound to happen to your legs or your buttocks.

But was she to do as her boss insisted that the trips were very important and they would meet up new prospects. That said, they went for the journey but the Lucy’s problem wasn’t with the legs nor the buttocks but the groin.

She started feeling inner thigh pain after the journey ended and felt the pain coming and going at different intervals.

The pain grew in intensity and was very sharp when she tried to move her legs or change her sitting position. The groin area started to change collor. That’s when she realized this was something serious and needed urgent medical care if she was to ever walk again.

She visited her doctor and was diagnosed with DVT or what is known as deep vein thrombosis.  DVT is just but one of the different causes of groin pain in women that we shall cover here.

What Causes Groin pain in Women?

Groin pain can result due to direct injury to the groin area or as a result of a referred pain coming from an organ lying under or next to the groin being affected and thus pain radiating through to the groin.

Direct injury: This is usually common with women engaging in different sports activities and may experience this pain due to a fall or someone or something hitting the groin area. Pain inflicted on the organs in the groin area would definitely cause varying groin pain though depending on the degree of the injury.  Simple pain medications and Icing the area helps kill this kind of groin pain in most women but if the symptoms persist then one is advised to get medical help.

Referred Pain: This is caused by injury to internal organs that lie close to the groin. At times the problem could resonate from injuries to the leg or organs in the lower abdominal area. Here are some of the referred causes of groin pain.

Causes of Referred Groin Pain in Women

kidney stone

Image showing a kidney stone logged in the kidney. The size of the kidney varies. image credits to Medicine.net

Kidney Stones:  

Kidney stones are small crystalline stones which form when urine becomes too concentrated with certain substances.

The most common is high calcium concentration as it is one of the leading causes of kidney stones.

Pain is normally felt in the lower abdominal area radiating to the back while the pain could also affect the groin.

Kidney stones related pain may come with chills, abnormal urine colouration, fever and even signs of vomiting.

Blood may also be seen in the urine as the body tries to pass the kidney stone.

Drinking plenty of water daily helps to prevent the stones from forming while also helps in passing the stone.

ovarian cysts causing groin pain

diagram showing a normal ovary against one with ovarian cyst. Though painful most cysts soon disappear without any intervention.

Ovarian Cysts: These are fluid filled sacks in the ovary, they occur in most women’s lifetime but show no major threat and soon disappears without much medical intervention.

The problem only comes when one experiences persistent lower abdominal pain and needs to get checked for any complications arising from the cysts.

Pregnancy: During pregnancy you may experience pain in your groin area due to the weight of the baby pressing on the lower abdominal organs and nerves resulting in pain.

Certain hormones too are released into your system during  certain stages of pregnancy and cause a slackness of the pelvic muscles and joints.

However, this pain is temporary and goes away with the change in body positioning and rest. If the groin pain  persists then it is important that you visit you local physician and get checked.

ectopic pregnancy

Diagram showing different positions where ectopic pregnancy occurs. The most common being tubal pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Ectopic or Tubal pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted in the fallopian tube or in any other place other than the womb.

The pain is usually severe and could lead to the death of not only the baby but also the mother. Ectopic pregnancy does not have a survival chance and has grave consequences if not terminated.

You are required to get urgent medical attention in case of ectopic pregnancy.

swollen lymph nodes

Picture showing a women with a swollen lymph node in her upper thigh.

Swollen Lymph nodes: The Lymphatic system plays a very important role in our body functioning by helping our cells fight infections.

Due to this function they could easily get inflamed and swollen.

The lymph nodes located in the groin area may swell due to certain infections such as presence of Sexually transmitted infections, high hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy or urinary tract infections.

The pain usually goes away easily within a span of two weeks but the swelling takes time to normalize.

One should see a physician if the pain gets worse instead of reducing with respect to time, if the nodes are red and tender or hard and immobile.

You should get immediate help if there are signs of fever, sweating at night or unexplained weight loss.

Hernia:

This is when internal organs such as intestines get displaced from the abdominal cavity and intrude into the groin area thereby causing pain.

Inguinal hernia occurs when small intestines pokes into the groin area and bulges out.

The hernia is more painful when you attempt to lift weight but disappears when you lie down. Most hernias require surgery to correct the situation and bring the intestines back into the abdominal cavity.

Bursitis: The bursa is a fluid filled sack that provides cautioning between the body organs and bones. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa.

Even though bursitis in most cases does not result from infections, it sometimes gets infected and need to be treated with to reduce pain. The doctor would prescribe  antibiotics to help deal with the infection.

Sexually transmitted illnesses

Diagram showing sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Various STI’s result in infection of the genital area and the groin.

The inflammation of the vaginal walls and the cervix mostly leads to groin pain.

STI’s such as gonorrhoea and syphilis cause inflammation and require urgent medical interventions to deal with the infections.

Urinary Tract Infection: UTI’s are another cause of groin pain and might look similar to kidney stones as there would be colourization of the urine.

The pain may affect the gall bladder and even the woman’s genital area. The infection would need to be treated to relieve pain and discomfort.

deep vein thrombosis

a diagram showing a normal vein against one with thrombus (blood clot)

Deep Venous Thrombosis: This is when a thrombus (a blood clot) gets logged in one of the deep veins in the leg.

Normally this affects the veins in the leg more than any other area.

DVT may be caused by situations such as sitting for a prolonged period such as in Lucy’s case above while travelling or during long periods of bed rest.

The clot may get stuck in one of the legs and cause the area surrounding it to become red and very painful.

The area affected may start to change in colour as the clot blocks blood circulation and transfer of oxygen to the body organs.

The situation could easily go un-noticed as there are no real symptoms for it.

The clot may however travel to the lungs and lead to what is known as pulmonary embolism (a more serious blood clot logged in the lungs that could easily kill) the clot may succeed and get to the heart and block heart muscles from working properly.

If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain and difficulty breathing then you may be showing signs of pulmonary embolism and would need to get emergency medical care.

Treatment for DVT includes blood thinning and therefore your doctor may recommend various blood thinning medications to help dislodge the clot.

The doctor may also prescribe pain control medication at his discretion and depending on the intensity of your pain.

Symptoms of Groin Pain in Women

Groin pain shows different signs and symptoms in women depending on the causes of the groin pain.

However, the following symptoms are most common;

  • Loss of appetite
  • A lump or bulge in your groin area
  • Difficulty going about your normal sports exercises e.g. running or swimming
  • pain in Lower back
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat and coughs.
  • Pain/itching in the genitals
  • Pain while urinating
  • Pelvic pain
  • lower abdominal pain
  • Rectal/vaginal discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the groin area
  • Trouble moving legs or even walking
  • Hip Muscle Weakness

When Should you Seek Urgent Medical Help regarding Female Groin Pain?

If you notice the following symptoms then you would need to urgently visit your doctor as it may be a severe infection requiring urgent attention;

  • Bleeding e.g. bloody stools, urine, or even unusual rectal discharge
  • Difficulty concentrating or alertness and a sense of confusion
  • Breathing difficulty, wheezing, or experiencing shortness of breath
  • light-headedness/ dizziness
  • Ulcers and blisters in the genital area
  • Very high fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Increased/decreased urine output
  • Severe pain in lower abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Redness in the groin area
  • Unusual Warmth around the groin area
  • Yellowish pus-like vaginal discharge

Diagnosis of Groin Pain in Women

Your doctor may need to perform various tests to establish the cause of your groin pain.

  • medical history check to establish whether the illness may be hereditary or even due to a previous surgery.
  • Urinalysis or Urine tests
  • Ultra sound tests
  • Blood count tests

Treatment of Groin Pain in Women

After conducting various tests, you doctor will prescribe appropriate medication. Initial care is helpful and may help reduce groin pain include the following;

  • Resting: You may need to rest the injury and not perform vigorous exercises that could aggravate the already painful groin.
  • Taking over the counter pain relievers to help reduce groin pain such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Applying ice packs to the injured area
  • Using and elastic wrap to bandage the injured area one such wrap is this Thigh Wrap
  • Treating the real cause of the groin pain i.e. the infection needs to be addressed before the lymph nodes reduce in size.
  • Perform warm up groin stretches before getting into vigorous exercises to be able to prepare your groin muscles.

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