That pain in your stomach may be trying to tell you something. When it’s pelvic pain, acute or chronic pain felt in the lower abdomen between your hipbones. It most often affects women’s reproductive organs, but can also signal problems that affect both genders, including pelvic infections, appendicitis or pelvic ruptures or leaks.

When is a stomachache more than a stomachache?

When it's pelvic pain, acute or chronic pain felt in the lower abdomen between your hip bones. It most often affects women's reproductive organs but can also signal problems that affect both genders, including pelvic infections, appendicitis or pelvic ruptures or leaks.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a sudden onset of pain may last one day or one week.

"There's a wide differential (of acute pelvic pain symptoms)," says Dr. Erica Nelson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director for the general obstetrics and gynecology division at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Chronic pelvic pain, or pain that has been present for up to several weeks or months, can come from several sources, Nelson said, including:

Diverticulitis - the out-pouching of the wall of the large intestine like outgrowing fingers causing nagging pain in the lower abdomen Endometriosis - the presence of womb tissue outside the womb that causes scarring Pelvic dysfunction - the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

Alleviating symptoms

Becoming familiar with different types of pelvic pain can help you know the most effective methods for alleviating symptoms.

Nelson says pelvic infections are best treated with antibiotics. Recurring pelvic infections may be caused by receiving medical treatment that does not cure the infection. Typically, this happens when the wrong medication is prescribed or not all of the medication is taken, according to EverydayHealth.com. Patients should speak with their doctors regarding the correct type of antibiotics to cure infection symptoms.

Other causes of pelvic pain, such as appendicitis, a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix, can be treated either by surgery, or non-surgical procedures such as taking medication, according to WebMD.com.

"Medication may be used as treatment if the doctor is unsure if the patient has appendicitis," Nelson says. Surgery is done if the patient's symptoms are definite, and the recovery time differs from patient to patient.

In the case of pelvic pain caused from a rupture of the pelvis, Nelson says the appendix must be removed.

"Treatment for pelvic dysfunction, the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, involves pelvic floor rehabilitation, or physical therapy, to help strengthen the muscles," she said.

Complex cases

More complex cases of pelvic pain, such as diverticulitis, may be treated using various methods. Diverticulitis, although severe, can be controlled, according to WebMD.com.

Many people have small pouches in the lining of the colon or large intestine that bulge outward through weak spots. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. Diverticula are most common in the lower portion of the large intestine, called the sigmoid colon. When the pouches become inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis.

Treatment for diverticulitis focuses on clearing up the inflammation and infection, resting the colon, and preventing or minimizing complications.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, the doctor may recommend bed rest, oral antibiotics, a pain reliever and a liquid diet, according to WebMD.com. If symptoms ease after a few days, the doctor may gradually increase the amount of high-fiber foods in your diet.

Severe cases of diverticulitis with acute pain and complications will likely require a hospital stay. Most cases of severe diverticulitis are treated with IV antibiotics and a few days without food or drink to help the colon rest. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Endometriosis - the abnormal growth of endometrial cells similar to those that form the inside a woman's uterus but in a location outside the uterus - may be treated with medications and/or surgery, according to MedicineNet.com. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium are commonly prescribed to help relieve pelvic pain.

Ectopic pregnancy is another complex case that causes pelvic pain.

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus. The egg settles in the fallopian tubes in more than 95 percent of ectopic pregnancies. The egg can also implant in the ovary, abdomen, or the cervix, none of which has as much space or nurturing tissue as a uterus for a pregnancy to develop.

As the fetus grows, it will eventually burst the organ that contains it. This can cause severe bleeding and endanger the mother's life.

Treatment of an ectopic pregnancy varies, depending on how medically stable the woman is and the size and location of the pregnancy. An early ectopic pregnancy can sometimes be treated with an injection of methotrexate, which stops the growth of the embryo. If the pregnancy is further along, a woman will likely need surgery to remove the abnormal pregnancy.

Consulting a physician

Nelson says a person experiencing acute pelvic pain should see a doctor if there are any immediate changes that produce extreme discomfort, especially in the bowels and kidneys, or if medications fail to provide relief.