What is endometriosis?
Let’s start off with the basics. What is this disorder that not nearly enough women around the world are educated on? Well, it is one of the most common gynecological conditions that affects women in all of North America. Endometriosis is tissue that should be growing inside the lines of the uterus but is growing on the outside of the uterus instead.
What are the symptoms?
In some cases, women experience no symptoms, but women who do have symptoms can experience the following:
- Pelvic pain that worsens during menstruation
- Painful intercourse
- Painful bowel movements or urination
According to UCLA Health, endometriosis has many painful symptoms associated with the disorder because the endometrial implants can become inflamed and irritated during menstruation. Endometriosis can also create scar tissue which may increase the pain a woman is already experiencing.
Do period cramps mean endometriosis?
Period cramps are a natural part of menstruation, but if your cramps/pain are debilitating and severe, that is not considered normal. This is one of the reasons why endometriosis so often goes undiagnosed. Because women are made to feel and think that pain and periods go hand in hand. That is not the case and is why some women don’t think to seek treatment or think anything is wrong. If your periods are very painful or your symptoms are severe, talk with your doctor.
So why it is that women don’t know more about endometriosis?
Dr. Rebecca Brightman, a gynecologist who has dedicated her career to finding out how endometriosis affects women says that “frequently, women are misdiagnosed because doctors may be listening to the wrong set of symptoms. Someone may be thinking that they were treated for a bladder infection or an intestinal problem when in fact they should have been treated for endometriosis. So I think it’s important for women to be on the radar screen for endometriosis if they are having certain symptoms that overlap with other conditions.”
How long does it typically take to get diagnosed with endometriosis?
Again, this varies based on the patient. Unfortunately endometriosis is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are often confused with ovarian cysts, STDS, period cramps and other common diagnoses. Some cases take anywhere from six to ten years to properly diagnose, which unfortunately means that some women go an extensive amount of time before receiving the correct diagnosis.
If I have endometriosis, will I have to go through invasive surgery?
This depends on the severity of the disorder and is treated on a case-by-case basis. Most women do not have to undergo surgery and if they do, it typically isn’t very invasive. Again, this depends. For some women with significant symptoms, a hysterectomy may be the answer but is not usually the norm. If surgery isn’t the answer, usually it can be treated medically by taking birth control pills and other medications to help suppress ovulation.
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