Chronic pelvic pain in New Zealand: prevalence, pain severity, diagnoses and use of the health services.
Grace VM., Zondervan KT.
UNLABELLED: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) in women is often debilitating and isolating. Problems with diagnosis continue to make CPP one of the most perplexing conditions in gynaecology, and one of the most difficult to treat. OBJECTIVES: This paper reports the findings of a population-based study in New Zealand in 2001 designed to investigate the prevalence of chronic pelvic pain in women between the ages of 18 and 50. Chronic pelvic pain was defined as pain that is neither associated with the menstrual cycle nor sexual activity. The prevalence of dysmenorrhoea and dyspareunia was also sought. It further aimed to examine pain severity, diagnoses, and the use of the health services as these facets of CPP affect different groups of women within New Zealand. METHODS: A random sample of 2261 was generated from the New Zealand Electoral Roll, and a postal questionnaire was administered during 2001. The response rate was 66% (adjusted for non-receivers), giving a study group of 1,160 respondents. RESULTS: The three-month CPP prevalence rate was 25.4% (95% CI 22.8-27.9). Half of those women reporting CPP (47.7%) remained undiagnosed. The three-month prevalence of dysmenorrhoea was 55.2%, and dyspareunia 19.7%. Recent or past consulters of health services for CPP contained a higher proportion of women with a high pain burden than those not consulting health services. Only one-third of New Zealand women (34%) reported no form of chronic pelvic pain (i.e. no CPP, dysmenorrhoea or dyspareunia). These prevalence rates indicate that CPP should receive greater public education and clinical attention.