Are you struggling with painful periods? Do you often find yourself stepping away from usual daily activities because your pelvic pain is getting worse? These signs and symptoms may be from endometriosis and can be a very unpleasant issue. Get to know all about the signs, symptoms, causes, and risks of endometriosis in this blog post.
What are the signs of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an incredibly painful disorder where the lining on the inside of the uterus (endometrium), grows outside of the uterus. This excess growth of tissue may line the pelvic, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other internal pelvic organs. Sometimes this condition is mistaken for other pelvic health issues like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
There are a few signs that women should not ignore if they believe they may have endometriosis. To start, debilitating periods that affect daily life is going to be the first red flag that women should look for. Periods that hinder living and cause someone to stop participating in activities like exercising, intercourse, and even relationships are not deemed normal.
- You’re missing school or work.
- Your pain is affecting relationships.
- You’re no longer exercising or doing daily activities.
- You find yourself taking a lot of medication to manage pain.
- You’re experiencing abnormal pain levels during menstruation.
One of the critical factors for women to understand when it comes to menstruation is that if pain cannot be cured with over the counter pain medication (Advil, Aleve, or Motrin), it’s time to seek advice from a provider. Along with that, it’s essential to document the progression of your symptoms.
What do symptoms look like?
While it’s common for women to experience minimal cramping during their menstrual cycle, endometriosis often involves symptoms of pelvic pain that is worse than average. Extreme pain in the pelvic region and during periods may potentially be signs that someone has endometriosis.
Common symptoms may include:
- Painful periods
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Pain during urination
- Pain during bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding, heavy periods, or bleeding between periods.
What Causes Endometriosis?
There are a few possible factors that can cause endometriosis, and the first one is retrograde menstruation. This is where menstrual blood flows back into the fallopian tubes, thus displacing endometrial cells into the pelvic lining.
Another factor includes the transformation of peritoneal cells (that line your inner abdomen) by turning them into endometrial cells. Similarly, the conversion of embryonic cells into endometrial cells during puberty may contribute to endometriosis. Endometrial cells can also attach to surgical scars from hysterectomies or C-sections.
Finally, endometrial cells may transport throughout the body via the lymphatic system.
Am I at greater risk for Endometriosis?
There are four stages of endometriosis that have been classified by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: minimal, mild, moderate, and severe. Pain level does not correlate or determine what stage a women may be in, as those with mild endometriosis may be in extreme pain, while those suffering with severe endometriosis may have no pain at all.
Beyond the four stages, there are risk factors that can increase a woman's chance of getting endometriosis. Risk factors for developing endometriosis include:
- Never giving birth
- Family history of endometriosis
- Starting menstruation at an earlier age
- Experiencing shorter menstrual cycles (less than 27 days)
- Having a lower body mass index
- Having higher estrogen levels in your body
- Medical condition that reduces a normal menstrual flow
- Abnormal uterine
There are two other risk factors to consider with endometriosis: infertility and ovarian cancer.
Infertility: Between one-third and one-half of the women who experience endometriosis suffer from fertility issues. If the endometriosis affects the fallopian tubes, it may be harder to get pregnant. Those with mild or moderate endometriosis may still conceive and carry to term.
Ovarian Cancer: Studies suggest that there is a higher rate of ovarian cancer with those who have endometriosis. While these studies show a risk, it’s still quite low due to the overall lifetime risk of ovarian cancer already being low.
Pelvic Treatment with Metro OBGYN
While endometriosis causes an immense amount of pain—usually severe pelvic pain—there are treatments to minimize the issue. Our four Twin Cities locations are ready to evaluate your symptoms to see if you have endometriosis.
Schedule an appointment with Metro OBGYN to get to know all of the treatments options available to you.
Need even more information on endometriosis? Check out our FREE downloadable guide below!