You may discover a pelvic mass yourself or it might be found during a routine physical exam with your doctor. If you discover a mass that you were unaware of, you should contact your doctor so they can determine what it is.
Your doctor will look at your age, gender, whether there is pain, the type of pain, the location of the mass, its firmness and texture to get an indication of what could be the cause of the mass and to determine what action, if any, needs to be taken.
Possible causes of a pelvic mass
Many different conditions can cause an abdominal mass, here are some examples:
- This is when some of the internal organs bulge through the muscle and tissue wall to form a a lump or mass. In the pelvic area these often occur due to heavy lifting, straining while coughing or straining to pass a bowel motion.
Female reproductive system
- Masses may form in the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes.
- In infants in the first few months of their life may develop adnexal cysts. This is rare and is caused by the effect of maternal hormone while it was in utero.
- When menstruation (menstrual period) first starts at puberty a vaginal mass may form if the flow of menstrual blood is blocked. The obstruction may be due to congenital malformations in the area or an imperforate hymen, which is when the hymen covers the whole opening of the vagina.
- Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus. It usually occurs in a fallopian tube, but can also occur in the ovary, abdominal cavity or the lower part of the uterus (cervix). The mass of the ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding which can be life-threatening if not untreated .
- Endometriosis can be a cause of pelvic masses within the ovaries but can be found anywhere in the pelvic area.
- Fibroids (leiomyomas) are usually non-cancerous growths that develop in or on the uterus. They can be a single nodule or growth or there can be a cluster of fibroids. Fibroids are very common, however many women are not aware of them if they are small or they cause no symptoms.
- Ovarian cancer and fallopian tube cancer also produce an adnexal mass.
Gastrointestinal tract (GI tract):
- A mass may form in the lower GI tract which could be due by tumors or an obstruction.
- Non-cancerous and cancerous tumors can cause a mass in the bladder. Symptoms of bladder cancer are blood in your urine, frequent and painful urination, and back pain.
- Skin cancer that is benign or malignant may form a lump on the skin. Any new or changing skin lump or mass should be checked by your doctor.
Under the skin:
- Lipomas are a fatty lump that develops underneath the skin and feels rubbery to touch. They are often round or oval, and painless. Lipomas can appear anywhere on the body but are more usually on the back, trunk, arms, shoulders and neck. They are slow growing and usually are not cancerous (benign).
If you discover any mass or lump in your pelvic area, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask about symptoms, do a physical exam and if necessary organize tests, ultrasound or CT scans. If it is a lump on your skin they may do a biopsy. Once you have your diagnosis your doctor will arrange the appropriate treatment if necessary.
MedlinePlus: Abdominal mass. Accessed May18, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003274.htm