If you experience pelvic area pain, unusually heavy periods, pain during or after sex or, menstruation for more than seven days, you might want to have a discussion with your gynecologist in an attempt to diagnose where your persistent pain is coming from.
We are proud to publish our various health awareness articles. While all articles are designed to raise awareness and improve communication, we really want to help raise awareness with regard to “endo”. Endometriosis affects almost 200 million women and yet, many women do not even know what endometriosis is, and that it can affect your daily lifestyle, sexual relationship as well as your fertility.
This is one of those diseases that have been under-reported and not diagnosed in many cases, believing the causes of persistent pain derive from either “bad periods”, intolerance to pain, psychological and other reasons.
What Is Endometriosis Exactly?
According to Endometriosis.org:
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the inside of the uterus (called “the endometrium”) is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue.
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
A complete pelvic examination by your gynecologist is necessary. They are able to feel scar tissue, cysts and other abnormalities.
Incorporation of transvaginal ultrasound presents a picture of your reproductive organs to your treating physician. While ultrasound does not always show endometriosis, it will show the presence of ovarian cysts.
Other types of imaging may also be used, such as CT scan or MRI.
Only as a last resort and when all other attempts at treatment have failed, will a laparoscopy be used to definitively diagnosis and treat endometriosis. Strong communication with your physician is important because invasive procedures still carry certain risks. This procedure should only be considered if it is required to formulate a treatment plan. This is used when pain is altering activities of daily living or, if other organs are affected. Many times, tissue is taken during laparoscopy for biopsy. This procedure is also used for confirmation of endometriosis or other disease or cancer.
Endometriosis is not classified as an autoimmune disease, but is an incurable one.
Many people commonly believe that having a hysterectomy will rid your body of endometriosis. Bare in mind that once a hysterectomy is performed, your body is going to require some type of hormone replacement.
Many women believe that becoming pregnant will completely alleviate the ongoing symptoms of endometriosis. While symptoms may improve during that time frame, when the menstrual cycle resumes, so too may the endo symptoms.
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), there are four classifications of endometriosis:
“Minimal” (Stage I)
“Mild” (Stage II)
“Moderate" (Stage III)
“Severe” (Stage IV)
This article further notes that there is little connection between the extent of the condition and the severity of pain.
Women are all affected differently by endometriosis.
One symptom of endometriosis is severe bloating also referred to as “endo belly” or, a “baby bump”. You can imagine what happens to self-confidence when people draw attention to your discomfort by asking if you are pregnant.
While there is no cure for this disease, your doctor may try several treatment to alleviate your symptoms before resorting to more drastic measures.
Endometriosis.org is a global forum for news and information about endometriosis.
Their purpose is to deliver up to date, evidence based, information and news about endometriosis, to provide the knowledge that empower women to make informed decisions about their treatment options.
According to Endometriosis.org, hormonal treatments are used as a treatment, hoping to shrink the lining of the uterus and the endometriotic lesions.
As mentioned above, surgery may be considered when all other treatment has failed. Endometriosis.org recommends if surgery is necessary, to find someone experienced in the surgical removal of endometriosis.
There are a lot of misconceptions about endometriosis, and education and awareness is the key to better management of this disease.
The OWH (Office on Women’s Health) has a fact sheet on endometriosis. You can view it by clicking here.
Communication with your physician is important to develop the proper treatment plan for your pelvic pain.
Maintaining a menstruation journal that includes the length and severity of your cycles, sexual pain and discomfort along with the frequency of pain are important questions that your physician will ask. Be sure to include any other physicians or treatments that you have undergone in trying to diagnosis and manage your pain.
Another resource that provides a tremendous amount of information regarding the treatment, education, research and support of people with endometriosis is www.endometriosisassn.org.