Uncovering the mechanisms that generate pelvic pain

Posted 10 Dec 2019

Flinders University researchers are taking the next step to develop more specific and effective pain-relieving treatments for women suffering pelvic pain.

Pelvic pain is an unpleasant sensation stemming from a range of different conditions, including menstrual pain, painful bladder syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome. Although most commonly experienced by women, study of the mechanisms that generate pain has been largely based around male subjects.

Using a combination of techniques pioneered by her team, and with the aid of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, researcher Dr Kelsi Dodds will examine the mechanisms that generate pain in female vertebrates and expand our female-specific pain knowledge.

Dr Kelsi Dodds aims to explore several fundamental mechanisms that may underly the development of pelvic pain in women. This includes: characterising the location of pain pathways from the pelvic organs to the central nervous system; determining what types of pain stimuli the pelvic organs detect; and examining how pain-sensing nerves from the central nervous system are distributed within the pelvic organs.

Dr Dodds’ research may lead to the development of more specific and effective pain-relieving treatments.

Women with pelvic pain often suffer from major social and physical debility. If we can understand how the pelvic organ pain systems work under normal physiological conditions, then we can devise well-informed, targeted drugs or therapies to help combat female-specific pelvic pain.

Project title: Central neural mechanisms contributing to pain from visceral organs in female vertebrates

Lead researcher: Dr Kelsi Dodds


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