Chronic pain is a significant and highly prevalent health condition and women comprise a majority of all chronic pain populations, particularly persistent pelvic pain. Female chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is a rapidly growing and costly health concern, and may reflect a number of underlying pain diagnoses including endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia and pregnancy-related pelvic pain. The frequent comorbidities shared by these pain conditions have been attributed to the complex interplay of somatic (cutaneous and musculoskeletal), visceral, and viscero-visceral crosstalk that shapes peripheral pain transmission within the pelvic girdle. Unfortunately, many previous attempts to understand normal and pathological variants of pelvic pain have primarily focused on these types of pain in isolation rather than considering system interactions. Our long term goal is to delineate the differences between pelvic pain mechanisms critical to the understanding, classification, and treatment of these myriad pain conditions. An examination of subtypes that are predominated by prototypical somatic features compared to visceral features will be undertaken. The short term goal of this application is to examine the sensory and functional characteristics of women with postpartum pelvic pain (somatic-musculoskeletal pain) and interstitial cystitis/IC/CPP (visceral pain), compared with women without CPP. Additionally, we will initiate preliminary investigation in the central brain imaging of these CPP subtypes. Our central hypothesis is that women with varying types of CPP will demonstrate unique peripheral (sensory and functional) and central characteristics specific to their diagnoses and their underlying mechanisms. The expected outcome of this study is the delineation of the clinical and scientific assessment methods that most accurately reflect the underlying peripheral and possible central mechanisms driving CPP subtypes. The public health impact of this proposed work will be to enable clinicians to provide more timely and targeted interventions to improve the quality of life of women with CPP.

Public Health Relevance

The etiologies of female chronic pelvic pain (CPP) diagnoses remain poorly understood. This study will examine the peripheral and central factors involved in women with postpartum CPP and chronic bladder pain (IC) compared to women without CPP. The public health impact of the proposed work will be to enable clinicians to provide more accurate CPP diagnoses and more timely and targeted interventions to improve the quality of life in women with CPP.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Developmental Biology Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Parrott, Estella C
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Loyola University Chicago
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code