The Lamen

Abdominal Pain in the Lower Left Abdomen: Identifying the Causes

by | Nov 29, 2022

Your abdomen is the home of various organs. Therefore, the location of your pain is an important factor for diagnosis. Stomach pain on the lower left side can be caused by a number of conditions but is commonly caused due to diverticulosis and diverticulitis of the colon.

Common causes  •  Diverticulitis  •  Gas  •  Celiac disease  •  Lactose intolerance  •  Hernia  •  Kidney stones  •  Shingles  •  IBS  •  Causes specific to women  •  Menstrual cramps  •  Endometriosis  •  Ovarian cysts  •  Ectopic pregnancy  •  PID  •  When to see a doctor?

Abdominal pain can have various causes, which may or may not be a reason for concern. Pain in your lower left abdomen could be caused due to something limited, like gas pain, or might be a sign of something serious, generally diverticulitis.

If the pain is caused due to some accident or injury, it may be caused due to internal injury or bleeding. You should seek immediate medical assistance in this case.

You should consider speaking with your doctor if abdominal pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • swelling of the abdomen
  • tenderness in the area
  • bloody stools or urine
  • skin or nails appear yellow
  • fever or chills
  • weakness or lightheadedness
  • frequent urination

Continue reading this article to learn about the most common causes of pain in the lower-left abdomen, the symptoms of specific conditions, and if you should consider speaking with your doctor.

Common causes of stomach pain on the lower left side

The lower left side of your abdomen is the home of the last part of your colon – the descending and sigmoid colon. Many of the pains experienced in this region are associated with infections or issues with the intestine.

Read about some of the most common reasons for pain in your lower-left stomach.


Diverticular disease is a group of conditions that affect your digestive tract, specifically the large intestine. Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system, commonly in the lower portion of the large intestine – called the sigmoid colon.

While diverticula are common, when these pouches become infected or inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis. Diverticula form in weak areas of the large intestine and are more common in older adults.

Diverticulitis can cause sudden and severe pain in the lower left side of the stomach or mild pain that progresses over several days. Other symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • abdominal tenderness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever

Constipation and diarrhea are also less common but possible signs of diverticulitis.

Mild diverticulitis generally goes away with rest, a change in diet, and antibiotics. However, in case you experience severe or recurring diverticulitis, you may require surgery, and should consult a doctor.


Burping and passing gas are normal results of the foods you eat. It can be a result of certain foods you eat, or because you swallowing air.

The common reasons for gas include:

  • swallowing more air than usual
  • a digestive disorder
  • food residue in your colon (indigestion)
  • overeating
  • smoking
  • chewing gum
  • consuming carbonated drinks
  • change in bacterial composition in the intestine
  • eating gas-producing foods
  • a health condition, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

One of the most common reasons for having gas is the overconsumption of high-fiber foods, like beans, fruits, whole grains, or vegetables. Gas isn’t usually serious, and passes out of the body through the mouth or anus. In fact, people expel this gas about 20 times a day.

You most probably have gas if you:

  • burp multiple times
  • pass gas
  • experience bloating in the abdomen
  • a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen

While this gas usually gets expelled out of the body, it can sometimes get trapped in the stomach. This gas building can cause some abdominal pain, which is usually relieved when you pass gas or take certain OTC drugs.

If you experience excessive flatulence, or if the symptoms of gas bother you, you should speak with a doctor. Any of the following symptoms can be a sign of some underlying issue:

  • abdominal pain
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • acid reflux
  • vomiting
  • blood in stool

Your doctor may perform a medical exam, and ask you to keep a food diary for a week or more to see if certain foods are causing stomach issues.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that leads to damage in the small intestine when people cannot digest gluten – a protein naturally found in some grains. The disease can cause long-lasting digestive problems and requires the consumption of a gluten-free diet.

When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages the villi – small projections in the small intestine responsible for the absorption of nutrients. This can lead to a number of digestive issues, including malnourishment, obesity, or loss of bone density.

Celiac disease is extremely common, affecting an estimated 1 in 100 people worldwide. If left untreated, celiac disease can cause long-term damage to the small intestine, along with the development of certain health conditions, like:

  • gall bladder malfunction
  • lactose intolerance
  • infertility and miscarriage
  • liver failure
  • heart disease
  • small intestine cancer
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Digestive issues are the most common symptom of celiac disease. Other symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • gas
  • chronic diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • abdominal pain

If a person thinks they have celiac disease, they should speak with a doctor. Celiac disease is generally diagnosed with blood tests, medical history, family history, and a biopsy of the small intestine.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance refers to a digestive disorder caused by a person’s inability to digest lactose – a sugar found in milk. This causes trouble digesting milk and milk-based products, such as cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.

Lactose intolerance is caused due to lactose malabsorption. Your body needs the enzyme lactase to digest lactose. Without sufficient amounts of this enzyme, the lactose passes undigested into your colon. The bacteria in your colon break down the lactose, creating gas and fluid.

Lactose intolerance can cause symptoms like:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea

Most people with lactose intolerance can consume some amounts of lactose without any serious symptoms. The severity of symptoms varies based on how much lactose you tolerate, and the amount you have consumed. Fortunately, these symptoms only last briefly, unless you have consumed large amounts of lactose.

Lactose intolerance should not be confused with milk allergy. While lactose intolerance refers to the body’s inability to digest the lactose present in milk, milk allergy is an immune reaction to the proteins found in milk. Dairy allergies can cause immediate, more serious symptoms, and could be life-threatening if not treated immediately.


A hernia occurs when an internal organ or other body part pushes through a weak part of a muscle or the tissue around it. A hernia in the abdomen or groin can create a noticeable lump or bulge. The bulge can disappear when lying down and reappear through physical activity, laughing, crying, or straining the abdomen.

Other symptoms of a hernia include:

  • increased pain at the site of the bulge
  • increasing size of the bulge
  • pain when lifting
  • a dull ache
  • a sense of fullness

The symptoms of a hernia depend on its type. Other types may cause heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or indigestion.

If you experience the symptoms of a hernia, you should seek a doctor for a medical diagnosis. Most hernias do not disappear on their own and can grow larger and more painful over time. If left untreated, they can also cause obstruction or strangulation of the intestine, requiring emergency surgery.

Kidney stones

A kidney stone is an irregularly-shaped hard object formed by chemicals in the urine. Depending on the size of your kidney stone, you may not even realize you have one. They start to cause problems as they grow larger, getting trapped in the ureter. The ureter is the tube that connects the kidney to the urinary bladder.

A kidney stone starts to hurt when it causes irritation or blockage. This can rapidly build up to severe pain, and even bleeding in the urine. A kidney stone can have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain on either side of your lower back
  • stomach ache that doesn’t go away
  • blood in the urine
  • frequent urination
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever and chills
  • urine that’s of a weird color, cloudy, or smells bad

There is no specific cause of kidney stones. It can be caused by drinking too little water, obesity, weight loss surgery, or eating food with too much salt or sugar. Family history might also be a possible factor.

In most cases, kidney stones pass through urine without causing damage or a lot of pain. In severe conditions, however, surgery may be required.


Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in your body for the rest of your life. In an estimated 1 out of every 3 people, this virus reactivates as shingles.

While chickenpox causes itchy blisters all over your body, shingles is characterized by a red skin rash that can cause pain and a burning sensation. Shingles usually appears as a stripe of fluid-filled blisters on one side of the body.

The symptoms of shingles include:

  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • fever and chills
  • rashes that appear on one side of the body, such as the chest, back, or abdomen
  • itchiness
  • burning sensation
  • upset stomach

Pain in a specific location is usually the first symptom of shingles, along with a rash that develops as a stripe of blisters. While treatments are available for the symptoms of shingles, there is no cure. Most doctors prescribe antiviral medications for shingles.

Certain vaccines are available that may reduce your risk of developing shingles.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. People with IBS generally experience excessive gas and abdominal cramps, which can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation.

The symptoms of IBS include:

  • abdominal pain
  • gas
  • bloating
  • change in bowel movements
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • mucus in poop

While the exact cause of IBS is not known, it is believed that these symptoms arise from a disturbance in the gut-brain connection. This refers to the nervous system in our guts communicating with the brain.

IBS is often unpredictable, with its symptoms often varying. For example, you can experience alternating diarrhea and constipation.

While no specific treatment or therapy works for every person with IBS, most people can find improvement in their symptoms through one of the following:

  • Dietary changes. Increasing your fiber intake, avoiding caffeine, drinking adequate amounts of water, and limiting dairy can improve the symptoms of IBS.
  • Activity changes. Regular exercise combined with certain relaxation techniques like medication can often result in the easing of symptoms.

Stress is also known to be one of the triggers of irritable bowel syndrome. People who experience anxiety or other forms of stress can experience the worsening of IBS.

Stomach pain on the lower left side specific to women

Abdominal pain is fairly common in women. While it can be caused due to a wide variety of conditions, some causes of lower-left abdominal pain are specific to women. These conditions may require specific medical attention.

Read how women can identify the cause of abdominal pain, and if they should seek medical assistance.

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)

Menstrual cramps generally refer to a dull, throbbing, or cramping pain in the lower abdomen. The pain can range from a minor annoyance for some women to severe in others.

You should seek out a doctor if:

  • your menstrual cramps regularly interfere with your routine activities
  • your symptoms worsen over time
  • your menstrual cramps started getting severe after age 25

In most cases, menstrual cramps are not serious and are referred to as primary dysmenorrhea. In case the period pain is caused by some medical problem, it is referred to as secondary dysmenorrhea. This includes conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or adenomyosis.


Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places outside the uterus, like the abdomen. This can cause uncomfortable symptoms like severe abdominal pain that impact your daily life.

The symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • very painful menstrual cramps
  • painful bowel movements
  • abdominal or back pain during or in between periods
  • heavy bleeding during periods
  • spotting between periods
  • pain during sex

The cause of endometriosis is currently unknown. According to researchers, the possible causes for the condition might be genetic factors, hormones, or immune system issues.

While you can’t prevent endometriosis, treatments are available for the symptoms and issues it causes. You can talk to your doctor to explore your treatment options.

Ovarian cysts

An ovarian cyst is a sac filled with fluid or semisolid material that forms on or within your ovary (one or both).

Ovarian cysts are extremely common, especially if you haven’t gone through menopause yet. These cysts are usually caused by ovulation, abnormal cell production, during the advanced stages of endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Most ovarian cysts are harmless, not causing any symptoms, and go away in a few months without any treatment. A larger cyst can cause some discomfort, including:

  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • dull ache in the back
  • a feeling of fullness
  • pain during sex
  • painful periods
  • frequent urination

A cyst that ruptures can cause some serious complications, like internal bleeding accompanied by intense pain. While extremely rare, ovarian cysts can be cancerous in some cases.

You should seek immediate medical aid if:

  • sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • pain with fever or vomiting
  • signs of shock, including cold skin, rapid breathing, and lightheadedness

If the symptoms of ovarian cysts linger, it could be an indication of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of male sex hormones, causing numerous small cysts to form in the ovaries. It could also cause hormone-related problems, including obesity and infertility.

Ectopic pregnancy

In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants itself in a structure that can’t support its growth, like the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can also happen on the ovary, or somewhere else in the belly.

While an ectopic pregnancy only happens in nearly 2 out of every 100 pregnancies, it can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

One of the earliest symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy is abdominal pain. Most of its early symptoms are very similar to the usual pregnancy symptoms. Other symptoms include:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • watery discharge
  • pain in the pelvis and lower back
  • dizziness
  • weakness

The fallopian tubes are not a structure flexible enough to support the growth of a fertilized egg. When an ectopic pregnancy happens, the developing fertilized egg can burst the fallopian tube. This can cause severe internal bleeding, along with:

  • fainting
  • low blood pressure
  • shoulder pain
  • rectal pressure
  • looking very pale

See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms and believe that you may be pregnant. An ectopic pregnancy can usually be detected within the first trimester and can be treated in several ways.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. Most people get PID through unprotected sex which can make it difficult to become pregnant in the future.

You have a higher risk of developing PID if you experience any of the following:

  • have STIs, especially gonorrhea or chlamydia
  • have many sexual partners
  • are sexually active and younger than 25
  • have previously had PID

Bacteria entering the reproductive tract often cause PID. You may or may not experience any symptoms.

When the symptoms of PID are present, they include:

  • pelvic and abdominal pain
  • heavy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • unusual bleeding from the vagina, especially during or after sex
  • pain during sex
  • fever or chills
  • frequent and painful urination

If you experience severe pain in your low abdomen, foul vaginal discharge, or have been exposed to an STI, you should seek the consultation of your doctor.

Should you see a doctor?

Stomachache or abdominal pain is a common occurrence and is not of immediate concern in most instances. However, the discomfort might be an indication of other underlying issues in some cases.

You should seek immediate medical assistance if your abdominal pain is severe, and arises:

  • after an accident or injury
  • with chest pain

If you’re struggling with stomach pain, and it is uncomfortable enough to interfere with your daily habits, you should consider seeking a doctor. Other common signs indicating the need for medical assistance include:

  • frequent or bloody stools
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever or chills
  • skin appearing yellow
  • rapid weight gain or loss
  • tenderness in the abdomen
  • swelling of the abdomen

While you’re waiting to meet up with a doctor, consider consuming smaller, easy-to-digest meals. Avoid taking OTC pain medications as they might cause further aggravation of your condition.

In a nutshell

Abdominal pain is an extremely common occurrence and can range from generalized pain to severe, localized pain. Therefore, it becomes important that you identify your symptoms to narrow down the causes.

If your discomfort has lasted more than a few days, the pain has been severe, or if you experience some accompanying symptoms, it’s better to speak with your doctor. Letting the pain persist may make your condition progress further, which could lead to developing some complications.