Menstrual cramps are no joke — the throbbing pain, the bloating that follows, the urge to wear sweatpants for a week straight. There’s not much you can do to alleviate the pain, but pop a pain reliever and wait it out. However, if you’re experiencing severe pelvic pain during your menstruation cycle, then you might have a more serious health condition known as endometriosis.
Endometriosis affects over five million women in the United States, and occurs when uterine tissue, also known as the endometrium, is located in the wrong place, such as outside the uterus or on nearby organs. In a healthy menstruating woman, endometrium grows inside the uterus, and sheds every month during a woman’s period. In women with endometriosis, the tissue has no way of exiting the body when it sheds during menstruation. This causes severe pelvic pain and other symptoms that cause discomfort.
March marks Endometriosis Awareness month, so we’re sharing some helpful information to help inform and educate you about this mysterious disease.
What does having endometriosis feel like? Well, it is commonly described as pain far worse than your usual menstrual cramps.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Severe pain during menstruation
- Pelvic pain any time of the month
- Painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation
- Bloating, constipation, or diarrhea during menstruation
- Extreme fatigue during menstruation
There is no known cause for endometriosis; however, the medical industry suspects that the condition is caused by the backup of uterine tissue into the fallopian tubes, which causes the tissue to flow into the abdominal cavity instead. Those who have a family history of endometriosis are at higher risk for developing this condition.
Diagnosing and treating endometriosis
Endometriosis can be detected and diagnosed through laparoscopic surgery, which is when a surgeon inserts a small camera into the abdominal cavity to check for endometrial tissue. If endometriosis is detected, your surgeon can remove the tissue using laser technology or other surgical tools.
Alternately, endometriosis can be treated using hormone medications such as birth control pills and medicines that block estrogen and progesterone for the sake of alleviating pain and other symptoms.
If you have endometriosis and are trying to become pregnant, inform your physician or gynecologist immediately, since some medications for treating endometriosis can cause harm to fetuses. In most cases, your doctor will instruct you to continue with medication to shrink the endometriosis before you try to get pregnant.
If you have been suffering from pelvic pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis, make an appointment with your gynecologist. Or, find an OB/GYN at Women’s Care Florida. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment and get back to enjoying a healthy, pain-free life.
If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, please schedule an appointment with a doctor here.
In a Women’s Care Florida blog post last March, we discussed the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, a painful condition that affects over five million women in the United States. The symptoms are more usually pronounced during menstruation, so it can be easily confused with other conditions including menstrual cramping or irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
Endometriosis shares many symptoms of IBS, and is commonly misdiagnosed as a result. Like IBS, endometriosis can cause abdominal pain and cramping, and changes in the appearance and frequency of bowel movements. Having a better understanding about the main differences between endometriosis and IBS can help you determine whether you’ve received the right diagnosis. If you suffer from severe pain during menstruation or changes in bowel habits, talk to your doctor, and make an appointment with the specialists at Women’s Care Florida.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of your uterus grows on other organs outside the uterus. This prevents a woman from shedding her endometrial lining through her vagina during menstruation, which can lead to inflammation and cysts. These tissue growths can grow on organs throughout the lower abdomen and pelvic area, and interfere with bladder and bowel function.
Many women assume that the symptoms they experience with endometriosis are directly related to their periods, which is partly why endometriosis sometimes goes undetected. Also, the tissue growths from endometriosis can develop next to the large intestine, lead to inflammation, and contribute to problems with bowel movements. As a result, some physicians diagnose endometriosis incorrectly as IBS.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Strong abdominal pain and cramping, especially during your period
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Bladder difficulties
- Pain during bowel movements
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Irregular bleeding between periods
- Vaginal tenderness
Differences between endometriosis and IBS
The most common symptoms shared between endometriosis and IBS are abdominal pain and cramping. Aside from these two symptoms, patients with IBS report having one or more additional symptoms.
Additional symptoms that can point to IBS are:
- Abdominal distension
- Colicky pain
- Upper abdominal pain
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, and typically find that IBS symptoms worsen around your period, it’s possible you could have endometriosis instead. Talk to your gynecologist about all your symptoms, and about your concerns regarding being improperly diagnosed. Your OB-GYN will run the necessary tests to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.
The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to providing the gold-star standard in women’s healthcare. Each of our Physician Care Groups has a distinctive style and practice that can be tailored to fit your individual needs. For more information about how Women’s Care Florida can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.