Chronic pelvic pain occurs commonly in the adolescent and can be a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge for the clinician, the adolescent, and her family. Defined as lower quadrant or lower abdominal pain lasting 3-6 months or longer, chronic pelvic pain can lead to missed school and activities, decreased functioning, and decreased quality of life in the adolescent. Both the primary care clinician and the pediatric gynecologist need to be aware of the most common causes of chronic pelvic pain in the adolescent, including surgical and nonsurgical, gynecologic versus other pathology including the psychosomatic, and the role of the mind in control of somatic pain in the adolescent. Adding to this complexity is the standard adolescent sense of invulnerability; a knowledge of adolescent development remains essential to the delivery of appropriate gynecologic care for this age group. Education and communication with both the adolescent and her family requires sensitivity, especially in cultures where adolescent sexuality is taboo or discouraged. This chapter will discuss the developmental stages of adolescence and how that impacts care of the patient with chronic pelvic pain at the varying ages, the issue of confidentiality when obtaining a sexual history on the adolescent, and etiologies of chronic pelvic pain specific to the adolescent, including gynecologic and nongynecologic causes. Diagnostic and treatment considerations for chronic pelvic pain in the adolescent will also be addressed.
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