Endometriosis can be a painful disorder that affects every 1 in 10 women, or around 176 million women worldwide. But, you don’t have to live with this condition and try to manage it on your own. There are treatment options available to help you manage your symptoms.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs in women during their reproductive years. The endometrium or the lining of the uterus grows in places in your body where it isn’t supposed to be like on the Fallopian tubes, within the pelvis, or on the ovaries. Many women start to notice that something isn’t right when this tissue starts to break down like the normal lining of the uterus does.
This breakdown happens during menstruation, and can cause several potentially painful problems like severe menstrual cramping, heavy periods, cysts and even infertility.
The surrounding tissues can get inflamed or irritated, and this can eventually lead to the formation of scar tissue. Adhesions are also possible, and these are fibrous tissue bands that can cause organs and pelvic tissue to stick together and to each other.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that around five million women currently live with this condition. However, the true number of women with this condition is most likely much higher because not all women who have endometriosis display symptoms.
Although some women live with this condition and don’t have any symptoms, the majority of women who have endometriosis experience at least one or two different symptoms. One of the biggest symptoms is having pain in your pelvic region, and this pain usually increases as the endometriosis gets worse. Other common symptoms include:
Digestive or Stomach Issues –
You may experience all or some stomach or digestive issues like constipation, bloating or pain when having bowel movements. These may get worse as you get your period.
Excessive Bleeding –
A lot of women with endometriosis have excessive bleeding during and even between their normal periods.
Certain inflammatory chemicals in the pelvic cavity fluids associated with endometriosis may be harmful to sperm and eggs. Scar tissue resulting in adhesions may also block the fallopian tubes so that he sperm and egg can’t unite.
Pain with Bowel Movements or Urinating –
During your period, you may notice pain when you have a bowel movement or when you urinate. The pain may stop completely when you’re done with your period.
Pain During Intercourse –
Because this condition usually involves scar tissue formation and irritation, you may notice pain during and after intercourse.
Pain During Your Period –
While some cramping is normal, severe cramping that can start a few days before your period and continue for the first few days into your period is common with this condition. You may also notice abdominal pain and low back pain.
Endometriosis treatment usually involves medications to help manage the symptoms or possibly surgery. Which treatment option you use will largely depend on how severe your symptoms are and whether or not you want to try to have children. Your OB/GYN from Florida Woman Care of Jacksonvillle will discuss the treatment options at length with you.
Some women have had success with managing their symptoms with pain medications. Your doctor might recommend that you try common over-the-counter pain medications like Advil, Ibuprofen, Naproxen or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
If you find that these over-the-counter pain medications aren’t managing your symptoms well enough, your doctor may suggest trying another approach.
Many women have found that supplemental hormone treatments can help to reduce the amount of pain they feel with their endometriosis. It’s your hormone levels increasing and decreasing during your menstrual cycle that makes the displaced lining thicken and bleed. So, supplemental hormones might slow down the tissue’s growth rate and stop any new lining formation. Common examples include:
● Birth control patches, pills, or vaginal rings
● Progestin-only therapy (Depo-Provera or the Mirena IUD)
● Surgical Procedures
Women who are trying to have children with endometriosis may benefit from surgery to preserve the ovaries and uterus while removing as much of the endometriosis as possible. It may also help with the pain you feel, but endometriosis can come back once the surgery has been performed.
Endometriosis can be an extremely painful condition, but you don’t have to manage it alone. If you’re having symptoms, or if you’d like to know more, contacting your OB/GYN and scheduling a consultation is the first step. Your Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville OB/GYN will assess you and help you come up with a plan to manage your endometriosis symptoms so you can get back to living your life.