The most common causes of stomach pain in women include gas, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and menstrual pain. In addition, overeating, a gallbladder attack, and gastritis can cause pain in the abdomen. Typically, gas pain causes lower abdominal pain, although that pain can be felt in the upper abdomen, which is called epigastric pain. It can also cause chest pain and even mimic symptoms of a heart attack.
Usually, stomach pain that is caused by excess gas can be treated with anti-gas medications containing simethicone. This medication breaks up gas bubbles, relieves pressure, and subsequently relieves pain. Viral or bacterial infections are also common causes of pain in the stomach, as is food poisoning. These conditions can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
Antibiotics are usually need to treat stomach pain that is caused by a bacterial infection. After the infection has subsided, pain usually goes away as well. It is important for women to realize that antibiotics can also cause stomach pain, so a healthcare professional needs to consider the risks as well as the benefits of this medication.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes chronic stomach pain, bloating, and constipation and diarrhea. It is more common in women, and the causes are not clear. IBS usually responds well to a therapeutic diet, so sufferers might want to talk to a nutritionist or other healthcare provider who can help devise a menu plan.
During the menstrual cycle, it is common for women to experience lower abdominal or stomach cramps. Painful periods often respond to anti-inflammatory drugs and using a heating pad. When menstrual cramps become severe, or are accompanied by heavy bleeding, women need to consult a medical professional to make sure that other gynecological conditions are not present. A gallbladder attack can also cause stomach pain in women; however, this type of pain usually begins on the right side of the abdomen and radiates to the back.
When pain becomes severe or more frequent, a woman should consider being examined by a medical professional. The healthcare provider typically will feel the abdomen for areas of tenderness, and he or she might recommend other tests, such as an upper or lower gastrointestinal X-ray series. An upper endoscopy study might reveal a peptic or duodenal ulcer, which can be treated with acid-blocking medication and avoiding certain foods, alcohol, and smoking.
Another common cause of stomach pain is constipation. Many women do not get the recommended amount of fiber in their diets, which can contribute to irregularity. In addition, hormonal fluctuations can cause constipation, as can not drinking enough water. Treatment includes adding more fiber to the diet, increasing fluid intake and, sometimes, taking a mild laxative or stool softener. If persistent, however, women should consult with a medical professional.