Pelvic symptoms can be categorized in different ways.

According to the:

Standardisation of terminology of pelvic floor muscle function & dysfunction Report From the Pelvic Floor Clinical Assessment Group of the International Continence Society (ICS)
Messelink et al. Neurourology and Urodynamics 2005; 24:374-380.

Pelvic symptoms are categorized as:

  1. Bladder (lower urinary tract) symptoms
  • Urinary incontinence
    • stress incontinence – leak with cough, sneeze, laugh, run, jump
    • overactive bladder – leak with sudden urge, can’t get there in time, bedwetting
    • post micturition dribble – few drops lost without sensation after a wee
  • Urgency and frequency – needing to go now, or very often, waking at night to empty
  • Slow or intermittent stream and straining – hesitancy or stop / start, or can’t get the flow going
  • Incomplete emptying – needing to go back a short while later, with another wee, may be good or rather small volume, possibly resulting in recurrent bladder infections

2. Bowel symptoms

  • Obstructed defaecation – it’s there, but it won’t come out
  • Functional constipation – it hasn’t even arrived yet
  • Faecal incontinence – loss of solid liquid or gas, or soiling (skid-marks)
  • Anal fissure – tight anal sphincter, resulting in tearing (like dry lips that crack when you smile, a tight sphincter can ‘split’ when it stretches)

3. Vaginal symptoms

  • Pelvic organ prolapse – something hanging low, an aching dragging sensation at the end of the day or after lifting

4. Sexual function

  • Women – pain with sex either deep or superficial, not able to have sex, lack of sensation, orgasmic dysfunction
  • Men – erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction and pain, orgasmic dysfunction

5. Pain

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pelvic pain syndrome

Not in Messelink

  • Musculoskeletal or somatic pain – low back pain, buttock pain, coccyx pain, hip pain, groin pain, pubic pain, abdominal pain, pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain

A more recent report categorizes female pelvic symptoms slightly differently, namely:

An International Urogynecological Association (IUGA)/ International Continence Society (ICS) joint report on the Terminology for the conservative and non-pharmacological management of female pelvic floor dysfunction
Bo et al. Neurourol Urodynam 2017; 36: 221–244.

Pelvic symptoms categorized into:

  1. Urinary incontinence (UI) symptoms
  2. Bladder storage symptoms
  3. Sensory symptoms
  4. Voiding and after voiding (post micturition) symptoms
  5. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) symptoms
  6. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction
  7. Symptoms of bowel (ano-rectal) dysfunction
  8. Lower urinary tract infection (UTI)
  9. Lower urinary tract pain and/or other pelvic pain:
    • Pain (in general): “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”.
    • Tenderness: sensation of discomfort with or without pain; discomfort elicited through palpation, indicates unusual sensitivity to pressure or touch.
    • Acute pain: pain related to acute trauma, infection or other well-defined disease processes or conditions.
    • Chronic pain: persistent or continuous/recurrent pain for at least 6 months. If non-acute and central sensitization pain mechanisms are well documented, then the pain may be regarded as chronic, irrespective of the time period.
    • Myalgia: muscle pain. Pelvic floor myalgia may be present with or without a change in pelvic floor muscle tone.
    • Myofascial pain: pain caused by the presence of trigger points within muscles or their fascia.