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Female Groin Pain

Groin pain in women could be attributed to overstretching of the muscles, ligaments, or tendons in this region, but there could be other reasons for the pain. This HerHaleness write-up lists out the contributing factors and treatment options for discomfort in the groin.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
The term 'groin' refers to the region between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of the body. More often than not, pain or discomfort is felt in this region when the adductor muscles in the groin get stretched beyond the tolerable limits due to an overuse injury, thereby leading to a sprain/strain. Muscles present in this region include adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, pectineus, and gracilis. Also termed as genital pain or perineal pain, pain in this region could be attributed to a wide range of reasons. Both men and women can develop pain in the groin. In the following sections, we will learn about the common contributing factors for groin pain in women.
Contributing Factors
There are numerous reasons that contribute to groin pain in females, and some of them are given below:
Groin Injury
Sharp pain in this region can occur due to a direct blow, sudden fall, or an injury in the groin region. More common in athletes and sportswomen, pain is mostly attributed to a muscle pull or a ligament tear.
Hip Pain
At times, the source of pain might be the hip joint, but the pain might get radiated or referred to the groin region. An infection in the hip joint, hip bursitis (inflammation of bursa located near the lateral region of the hip), fracture of the hip joint, arthritis, or trochanteric bursitis are some of the other prominent causes of pain in the groin region in females.
Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a prime cause of pain in this region. As the body undergoes hormonal changes, the ligaments in the pelvic region might become slack. Moreover, the joints are under stress due to the increase in body weight. Pregnant women are likely to experience pain in the lower back, genital area, upper thighs, and hip joints.
Femoral Hernia
Femoral hernia occurs in the lower abdomen when a part of intestine protrudes through an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall. It is primarily characterized by the presence of a painful bulge or knot, developed by the intestines under the skin near the thigh. Apart from groin pain, other symptoms of femoral hernia in women include abdominal pain and swelling, constipation, groin swelling, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Osteitis Pubis
Osteitis pubis is a condition that is characterized by the inflammation at the junction of two pubic bones (pubic symphysis). Athletes are more likely to develop this condition. It is an overuse injury, and is caused due to strain on the pubic symphysis. It could occur due to excessive abdominal muscle contraction that occurs during repetitive sit-ups, or while performing activities that involve running, kicking, or changing directions repeatedly. Marathon runners, and women who play football or hockey are at a greater risk of developing this condition.
Myositis Ossificans
Quite common in athletes, myositis ossificans is a condition wherein damage to the periosteum (sheath that surrounds a bone) and a muscle (especially thigh muscle) due to excessive stress or trauma causes calcification (development of bone within the muscle). This condition gives rise to pain around the muscle, which is especially felt when one exercises. The pain can also extend to the groin.
Iliopsoas Bursitis
Iliacus and psoas major refer to the muscles of the hip. They are often referred to as a single muscle called iliopsoas. Strain to this muscle or inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (Iliopsoas bursa) that is located on the inside (groin side) of the hips are other contributing factors for pain in the groin area. The pain could worsen due to the flexion of the hip, and the discomfort is typically felt in front of the hip and groin region.
Besides the aforementioned conditions, other possible causes of groin pain in women could be urinary tract infections, genital herpes, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cyst, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infection of the large intestine, and enlargement of lymph nodes in this region.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are different ways to diagnose the underlying cause of pain. A physical examination might be conducted to check for the presence of a lump in this region. This is to ascertain if the pain is due to hernia or an abscess. Radiological tests like Doppler test, pelvic and lumbar X-rays, CT scans of the pubic symphysis, pyelograms, etc., may be conducted. CBC, erythrocyte sedimentation rate test (ESR), electrolytes and renal function tests, blood tests, urinalysis, etc., are also conducted to check the overall health of the patient.
Treatment options can be ascertained once the underlying cause has been identified. For instance, if the pain is due to adductor muscle pull or strain, R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the best way to provide relief from the pain or discomfort. Physical therapy might also be recommended. Performing low intensity exercises that are recommended by the physiotherapist could help strengthen the muscles and ligaments. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful in alleviating pain or swelling in the groin area. However, if the pain is due to femoral hernia, the patient may have to undergo a surgery.
On a concluding note, persistent pain in the groin region could be caused due to a wide range of reasons. Therefore, medical assistance must be sought for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.