Endometriosis and How to Treat It

Category: Posted on: 12/21/18 4:14 PM
A woman clutching her lower abdomen.

Endometriosis has been in the spotlight lately, and we’re sure some people are wondering what Endometriosis is. In this article we’ll be covering what it is, what its symptoms are, and how you can go about treating it if you have it.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis, colloquially called, “Endo,” is a fairly common health issue in women. The name comes from Endometrium, which is the tissue that usually lines the womb or uterus.

Endometriosis is the result of these tissues growing outside of where it’s supposed to be. Most often, it can be found on:

  • The Ovaries
  • The Fallopian Tubes
  • The tissues that hold the Uterus where it is
  • The outer surface of the Uterus

However, it can also be found in other places, including the:

  • Cervix
  • Bowel
  • Vulva
  • Rectum
  • Bladder
  • Vagina

In more rare cases, it can appear in other places like the brain, lungs and skin.

Endometriosis may affect more than eleven percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44, so it’s fairly common. It’s especially common among women aged 30 to 40, and can make it harder to become pregnant.

What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

There are a number of fairly common symptoms that come with Endometriosis that you should keep an eye out for:

Pain:

The most common of the symptoms, pain comes in many forms when it’s related to Endometriosis.

Women with Endometriosis may experience very painful menstrual cramps. It’s worth noting that while menstruation is considered painful by many, if you experience a great deal of pain, you should speak with your OB-GYN. This pain may worsen with time.

Pain during or after sex is fairly common for women with Endometriosis, as well. Usually described as a “deep” pain, it’s different from pain felt at the entrance to the vagina when penetration begins.

Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods can also be there. In some rare cases, you may find blood in your stool or urine.

Endometriosis may also come with chronic pain in the lower back, intestines or pelvis.

Bleeding or Spotting Between Menstrual Periods:

This can be caused by something other than Endometriosis, but if it happens regularly, you need to see an OB-GYN.

Infertility:

Endometriosis can be known to cause issues with getting pregnant. Naturally, this can happen for any number of reasons as well, so it’s best to consult an expert.

Stomach or Digestive Issues:

Including diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.

How Do You Treat Endometriosis?

Although you cannot prevent Endometriosis, and it’s not curable, there are treatments available for the symptoms and problems it can cause, so you should talk about your options.

There are medicinal treatments as well as surgical treatments.

Medicine

If you’re not trying to get pregnant, the first step is to get on hormonal birth control. It can be either extended cycle (only a few periods a year) or continuous cycle (no periods) birth control. They can help with bleeding and reduce or eliminate pain.

An Intrauterine Device is also an option that helps with the pain and bleeding. It protects against pregnancy for up to 7 years, but may not help Endometriosis symptoms for very long.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, your doctor may prescribe you a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist. This is a medication that stops the body from making the hormones responsible for ovulation, the menstrual cycle, and – consequently – the growth of endometriosis.

This third option causes temporary menopause, but it helps control the growth of Endometriosis. Once you stop taking the medication, everything goes back to normal, but you may have a better chance of becoming pregnant.

Surgery

This is usually an option for severe symptoms, when hormones are not helping, or you are having fertility issues. During the surgery, the surgeon can find any areas of endometriosis and may remove the patches.

After the surgery, the hormone treatment is restarted unless you’re trying to get pregnant.

Other Treatments

To be used alone or with any of the above treatments, you can take pain medicine if your doctor suggests it, or you can use complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Some women can find relief from pain from acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs or supplements, but they’re not meant to replace medical treatment from a doctor.

Endometriosis is Painful…

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, we suggest you visit your doctor about it. At that point you can talk about treatment options if you have Endometriosis. Our doctors are happy to help, should you need it.