Do you double over in pain at the start of your period?
While cramps are a part of menstruation, what if we told you that going through bad cramps and pain isn’t normal? If you find yourself taking time off work because your cramps get so bad, or if you find that you’re unable to enjoy sex due to pain, these could be signs of endometriosis.
What Is Endometriosis?
This chronic condition causes endometrial tissue to develop outside the uterus, leading to pain, scarring, infertility and inflammation. About one in ten women of childbearing age will develop endometriosis. Unfortunately, many women experience debilitating menstrual or abdominal pain for years before seeking help from a qualified OBGYN. This means it can be years before someone gets a proper diagnosis.
What Are the Causes?
Unfortunately, doctors are entirely sure what causes endometriosis; however, some doctors believe that when tissue is shed during menstruation, it passes through the fallopian tube and into the abdomen, where it attaches to other reproductive organs and tissue. This is sometimes referred to as reverse or retrograde menstruation.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms vary from person to person. Endometriosis may cause,
- Intense or severe menstrual cramps
- Painful sex
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Pelvic pain
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
It’s essential to turn to your OBGYN if you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, as untreated endometriosis can get worse over time and lead to infertility. Common treatment options for endometriosis may include,
- Hormone therapy: this most often includes oral contraception, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), and progestin or progesterone medication
- Pain medication: this may include over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or prescription-strength pain relievers
- Surgical treatments: If medication isn’t providing relief or your symptoms are severe, your OBGYN may recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove excess tissue and adhesions.
- Fertility treatment: If endometriosis has affected fertility and surgery has not improved your chances of getting pregnant, then your OBGYN may discuss other fertility treatment options, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you are dealing with painful periods, it may be time to sit down with your OBGYN to discuss your symptoms and determine if you might have endometriosis.