Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is commonly defined as nonmalignant intermittent or continuous pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or intrapelvic structures, lasting at least 3–6 months. If nonacute and central sensitization pain mechanisms are present, the condition is considered chronic, regardless of the time frame. Central sensitization is characterized by amplification or increased sensory perception, where stimuli that are normally not painful are now perceived as painful. CPP is in women not exclusively associated with the menstrual cycle, sexual intercourse or pregnancy, but is sufficiently severe to cause functional disability or to lead to medical care.
Epidemiologically CPP has a greater incidence in women than in men, and is mostly present between the ages of 36 and 50 years. The etiology of CPP however is not clear. It can be difficult and complex to determine the cause of pain; in fact, no specific cause may be discovered. Many women are not able to identify a specific set of problems which can cause problems and allow for the diagnosis to be made. CPP may originate from one or more organ systems or pathologies and may have multiple contributing factors. It usually involves an interaction between the gastrointestinal, urinary, gynecologic, musculoskeletal, neurologic and endocrine systems. It can also be influenced by psychological and sociocultural factors.