Left Lower Abdominal Pain: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Janis

By Janis | Updated December 4, 2023

Experiencing pain in your lower left abdomen can be concerning and uncomfortable. Many different factors can contribute to this discomfort, ranging from digestive issues to reproductive system conditions. 

It’s essential to understand the possible causes so that you can take the necessary steps towards relief and proper treatment. Some common causes of lower left abdominal pain include gas, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney stones, diverticulitis, and ovarian cysts.

In some cases, the pain may resolve on its own, while other instances may require medical attention. Remember that seeking professional medical advice is always the best course of action when dealing with persistent or severe pain.

Common Causes

The following section outlines some common causes of lower left abdominal pain. 

Recognizing these causes can aid in understanding your symptoms, guiding your healthcare-seeking process, and facilitating a conversation with your healthcare provider about potential diagnoses and treatment plans.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a common cause of lower left abdominal pain. It develops when small pouches in the colon (diverticula) become infected or inflamed, leading to severe pain, often accompanied by fever and changes in bowel habits.

Treatment for diverticulitis varies and can involve antibiotics, pain relievers, or dietary changes. In severe cases, hospitalization or surgery might be necessary. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can lead to recurring pain in the lower left abdomen. It’s a common disorder that affects the large intestine, causing bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, among other symptoms.

Though there’s no cure for IBS, various treatments can manage symptoms. This includes dietary changes, medications, and managing stress. It is crucial to see a physician for proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plans.

Constipation or Indigestion

Constipation or indigestion may cause lower left abdominal pain. These conditions typically result from a diet low in fiber, inadequate hydration, lack of physical activity, or stress. The discomfort is usually accompanied by bloating and difficulty passing stools.

Treatment usually involves lifestyle changes like increased water and fiber intake, exercise, and stress management. Over-the-counter or prescription medicines can also provide relief.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is a possible cause of lower left abdominal pain. These chronic diseases cause inflammation in the digestive tract, resulting in persistent pain and digestive issues.

Managing IBD often requires potent medications to reduce inflammation and prevent complications. Dietary modifications, mindfulness practices, and regular exercise can also support overall wellness. 

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can cause severe pain in the lower left abdomen when they move into the ureter. These hard deposits, formed from mineral and salt accumulation, can lead to a sharp, cramping pain that often radiates to the lower back.

Treatment for kidney stones includes pain relievers, improved hydration, and, in some cases, medical procedures. A urologist should be consulted for diagnosis and appropriate treatment, especially if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms like blood in urine.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) can sometimes present with lower left abdominal pain. This bacterial infection, commonly affecting the bladder, causes pain, a frequent urge to urinate, and a burning sensation during urination. Antibiotics are the standard treatment.

Lower Abdominal Pain in Females

Lower abdominal pain in females can stem from conditions related to the female reproductive system, in addition to digestive or urinary issues. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, depending on the cause.

Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps are a common cause of lower abdominal pain in females. These occur due to the contraction of the uterus during menstruation, which can sometimes be intense enough to cause discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, hormonal contraceptives, and heat therapy are common treatments. If cramps are severe or interfere with daily activities, it’s recommended to seek medical advice, as it can indicate underlying health issues like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Ovulation

Ovulation may cause a lower abdominal pain known as mittelschmerz in some females. This typically occurs midway through the menstrual cycle and can cause a sharp or dull pain on one side of the lower abdomen.

The pain usually subsides on its own within a few hours to a couple of days. However, if the discomfort becomes severe or is accompanied by other symptoms like heavy bleeding or fever, medical assistance is essential as it could signify other conditions like ectopic pregnancy or endometriosis.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can lead to lower abdominal pain as the body undergoes changes to accommodate the growing fetus. This is generally normal, but persistent or severe pain can indicate complications like ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Such symptoms warrant immediate medical attention. Regular prenatal care and consultations with a healthcare professional can help manage these pains and ensure a healthy pregnancy. Moreover, it’s crucial to understand what’s normal and what’s not during this period.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts can be a source of lower abdominal pain in females. These fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries can cause a dull or sharp ache, bloating, and a feeling of fullness if they grow large or rupture.

Most ovarian cysts disappear naturally without treatment. Treatment options can range from monitoring to medications or surgery based on individual circumstances.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus and can cause sharp lower left abdominal pain. Often, the pain is accompanied by symptoms like vaginal bleeding and shoulder tip pain.

This condition is a medical emergency because, if left untreated, it can be life-threatening. Any woman with a positive pregnancy test and severe abdominal pain should seek immediate medical assistance. Treatment usually involves medication or surgery.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition causing lower abdominal pain in females. It occurs when tissues similar to the uterine lining grow outside the uterus, often leading to intense menstrual cramps, extended menstrual periods, and pain during intercourse.

Managing endometriosis may include hormone therapy, pain medications, and, in some cases, surgery. Diagnosis can be challenging due to symptomatic overlap with other conditions, making it critical to seek professional healthcare advice if symptoms are persistent and severe.

Ovarian Torsion

Ovarian torsion is a rare but serious condition where an ovary twists on its supporting tissues, cutting off blood supply. This causes sudden and severe pain, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Lower Abdominal Pain in Males

In males, lower abdominal pain can potentially indicate a variety of conditions ranging from gastrointestinal issues to problems with the male reproductive organs. Understanding the cause is vital for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Inguinal Hernia

In males, lower abdominal pain may be caused by various conditions. One common issue is an inguinal hernia, which occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the groin area.

You may notice a heavy feeling or a visible bulge in your groin.

Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion is another potential cause involving the twisting of the spermatic cord that carries blood to the scrotum.

This can be a very painful event that requires immediate medical attention.

Infections

Infections or inflammations, such as prostate infections, can lead to chronic pain in the lower abdomen. 

These often come with additional symptoms like frequent urination or pain during urination. Remember, it is crucial to consult with a medical professional and accurately diagnose the source of your lower abdominal pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common causes of lower left abdominal pain in females?

In females, lower left abdominal pain can be caused by issues related to the reproductive organs, such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or menstruation. 

Additionally, gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis could cause discomfort in this area.

What are the typical reasons for lower left abdominal pain in males?

For males, common causes of lower left abdominal pain include gastrointestinal issues, such as diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Kidney stones and urinary tract infections can also lead to pain in the lower left abdomen.

When should I seek medical attention for lower left abdominal discomfort?

It’s important to consult your healthcare provider if your pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, weight loss, or changes in bowel habits.

These could be signs of a more serious condition that requires medical attention.

What organ is located in the lower left area of the abdomen?

The lower left area of the abdomen primarily contains parts of your colon and small intestine.

The female reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and uterus, are also located in the lower left abdominal region, while the male reproductive organs, namely the spermatic cords, can extend to this area as well.

Can digestive issues cause pain in the lower left abdomen?

Yes, digestive issues like gas, constipation, and diarrhea can lead to lower left abdominal pain.

Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis are also common causes of discomfort in the lower left abdomen.

Are there any serious conditions associated with lower left abdominal pain?

While some causes of lower left abdominal pain can be mild, such as gas or muscle strain, others can be more serious. 

Diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney stones, and ovarian cysts are some examples of potentially severe conditions that may cause pain in this region.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice.