Female chronic pelvic pain is highly prevalent in Denmark. A cross-sectional population-based study with randomly selected participants

Background and purpose Female chronic pelvic pain is a significant clinical problem that burdens the health care services and work productivity, and leads to disability and reduced quality of life among the women affected. A recent systematic review reported worldwide prevalence rates for female chronic pelvic pain ranging from 2.1% to 24%. Our aim was to assess the prevalence, characteristics, and factors associated with chronic pelvic pain among women living in Denmark, and to compare these findings with a pain-free reference group. Secondly, we evaluated the impact of pain on daily life in women suffering from chronic pelvic pain. Methods A cross-sectional postal survey of the prevalence of chronic pelvic pain was undertaken in a randomly selected general female population in Denmark (N = 2500). Inclusion criteria were: (a) ≥18 years of age and (b) living in the Capital region or the region of Zealand in Denmark. Statistical analyses included prevalence percentage rates, chi-square tests, Mann-Whitney tests, and unpaired T-tests. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the significant independent variables and to estimate their simultaneous impact on chronic pelvic pain. The results were expressed as odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals. All tests were two-tailed and significance levels were set at p < 0.05. Results 1179 (48%) women living in representative areas of Denmark responded. The prevalence of chronic pelvic pain was 11% (n = 130) in women ≥18 years with a prevalence of 13.6% (n = 87) in women of reproductive age; 6.2% (n = 73) women experienced at least moderate average pain intensity (numerical rating scale ≥4). Self-reported diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (20%), bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (3%), vulvodynia (9%), endometriosis (8%), and pelvic surgery in the preceding 6 months (5%) were more prevalent in cases compared to pain-free reference subjects (p = 0.00). Chronic pelvic pain interfered with daily life "all the time" in 5% of the women, "sometimes" in 72.3%, and "not at all" in 22.7%. Factors independently associated with chronic pelvic pain were age, country of birth, and former pelvic trauma or pelvic surgery (p < 0.05). No association was found between chronic pelvic pain and selected socio-demographic factors (residential area, educational level, cohabitation status and employment status). Conclusions Female chronic pelvic pain appears highly prevalent (11%) in Denmark (6.2% with moderate to severe pain). Women of reproductive age had a slightly increased prevalence (13.6%). Although the reported prevalence is based on 48% (N = 1179) of the invited sample, dropout analyses found that respondents did not deviate from non-respondents. Therefore, we considered the reported prevalence rate representative for the total sample and generalisable to the general female population in Denmark. This study was cross-sectional, and relied on association-based analyses. Consequently, causality between age groups, country of birth, former pelvic surgeries and pelvic traumas and experiences of chronic pelvic pain remains unknown. Implications In order to improve prevention and treatment of chronic pelvic pain in Denmark, high quality, population-based cohort studies and randomised clinical trials are essential. The demand for trustworthy chronic pelvic pain prevalence estimates might also inspire political attention and hereby facilitate funding for further development of treatment and research.

Scandinavian journal of pain. 2017 Dec 29*** epublish ***

S Loving, T Thomsen, P Jaszczak, J Nordling

Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Department of Anaesthesiology, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark., Abdominal Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark., Department of Gynaecology, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark., Department of Urology, Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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