Are you suffering from painful menstrual cycles? Are you starting to wonder if your intense abdominal pain is normal? You’re not alone, as many women deal with health issues related to their menstrual cycle. It's essential to figure out whether you’re having severe cramps or a condition called endometriosis. Get to know more about endometriosis and how this incredibly painful disorder is more common than you might think.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue from the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows on the outside. Endometrial tissue growth may also occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvis lining, and in rare cases may affect pelvic organs and other internal organs. It’s estimated that roughly up to 10% of women in the United States have endometriosis. This disease usually causes a lot of pain, discomfort, fertility issues, and more.
Often mistaken for severe menstrual pain, endometriosis has distinct symptoms which include debilitating periods, pain during or after intercourse, excessive bleeding, infertility, fatigue, nausea, and so much more. In some cases, women may not experience any symptoms at all, making it difficult to identify and diagnose.
Risk factors include women of all ages, but the most common age group to develop this disease are 25-40 year olds, and symptoms may begin at puberty or occur later in life. Other risk factors for developing this disease include genetics, a woman's menstrual history, and women who have not had children. It’s unclear why pregnancy aids in stopping the progression of endometriosis (though it may have something to do with hormone production), but childbirth doesn’t cure this disease even though it may potentially diminish symptoms afterward.
There are four stages for endometriosis: minimal, mild, moderate, and severe. Pain level does not determine what stage a woman will be in, as it’s usually based on the amount and size of the endometrial tissue, along with its location. This means that a woman in stage 1 may experience a significant amount of pain, while another in stage 3 or 4 may not experience any pain at all.
Diagnosing endometriosis begins with visiting an urogynecologist or a healthcare provider who has a specialty in female pelvic health and restoration. From there, the provider will evaluate symptoms, medical history, and conduct both a physical exam as well as a pelvic exam.
For a definitive diagnosis, a minor surgical procedure known as a laparoscopy must be completed, which includes biopsies of endometrial tissue. These types of minor surgeries also help to understand which stage a woman may be in, as providers can spot the location, size, amount, and the extent of the growth. Beyond laparoscopy, other non-invasive screening methods used may include an ultrasound, CT scan, and an MRI scan.
Preparing for Your Appointment at Metro OBGYN
For your first appointment, it’s best to bring as much information as possible and ask plenty of questions. Here are a few things you should have with you during your first appointment:
- List of your symptoms and what you’re experiencing.
- List of your family medical history.
- List of medications, vitamins, or supplements you’re taking.
- List of questions you’d like to ask your provider.
Questions to Ask Your Provider
Whether it’s your first trip to visit your provider or you are seeking more information, asking questions about endometriosis may help you during your recovery. Some questions to ask may include:
- How do you diagnose endometriosis?
- What are my treatment options?
- Are there any alternative treatment options available?
- Are there any side effects of medications?
- Should I be concerned about my ability to become pregnant?
- Should I be concerned about infertility issues?
- Will my endometriosis ever go away?
Why You Should Visit Metro OBGYN for Pelvic Pain
Whether you’re suffering from pelvic organ prolapse or you’re dealing with pain from endometriosis, consult with one of our experienced and highly-trained providers to get you back to living your best life. With four convenient locations in the east Metro, we're ready to help you take the next step with your pelvic care.
Want to know what it’s like to have endometriosis? Get to know some stories from females when you download our FREE guide below.