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Anonymous on September 27, 2011

Could an STD cause really sharp pains in the lower part of my stomach?

I’m experiencing sharp pains in the lower part of my stomach. I’m having problems bending or taking deep breaths, and I also have very painful urination. It seems like my vagina is inflamed too. My boyfriend and I have both been tested and are negative for STDs. What could this be?

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 27, 2011

You’re right to be concerned about the sharp pains you feel in your lower abdomen...symptoms like that are certainly cause for concern. First and foremost, I would urge you to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I’ll share with you a few thoughts for your consideration:

Lower abdominal pain in women can mean many things...appendicitis, kidney stones, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a bladder infection are a few possible causes that come to mind. Again, upon a thorough examination, a doctor will be able to identify the root cause of your discomfort. 

Appendicitis is a serious problem that occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed or infected. People who have appendicitis typically have a sharp pain in the lower right side of their abdomen…if this sounds like you, it’s very important that you seek immediate medical help to avoid complications.

Kidney stones, on the other hand, can develop when crystals of certain substances in the urine accumulate into a hard “stone.” If you have a kidney stone, you might not notice it until it begins to move through the urinary tract, at which point it can get stuck and cause severe pain. People with kidney stones usually feel pain in the back or flank, but also in the belly or groin, and they might have differently-colored urine and flu-like symptoms.

A bladder infection can also cause symptoms of abdominal pain and discomfort during urination. You doctor can diagnose a bladder infection by analyzing your urine for certain types of bacteria. Infections of the urinary tract (which includes the bladder and the kidneys) can sometimes be caused by STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes…as well as other bacteria, like E. coli.

PID can cause abdominal pain in women, too. PID usually happens after a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection has made its way up through the female reproductive system from the vagina through the cervix into the uterus and onto the fallopian tubes. The infection can cause internal scarring, pain and ⎼ in some cases ⎼ infertility.

Speaking of STDs, do you know which ones you and your boyfriend have been tested for? For example, do you know if you’ve been tested for common STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes 1 and 2, hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis? In our Expert Guide to STD Basics, you can learn more about STD risks, symptoms, complications and testing.

Upon prompt consultation with your doctor, I wish you a speedy resolution to your symptoms. 

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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