Signs Of Endometriosis You Should Be Aware Of
Most women experience cramps or pains during their menstrual cycle, but have we as a society just accepted that we must power through it? Yes, cramps are normal, but pains to the extent of wanting to throw up or lay in bed all day could be signs of endometriosis.
- Endometriosis is common among women and can deeply affect various aspects of their lives.
- There are many signs of endometriosis, but it is extremely important to consult with a doctor before self diagnosing.
- Easing symptoms with various hormone treatments and laparoscopic surgery.
What is endometriosis?
If you just read that and said “uhhhh I have incapacitating cramps,” you might have a disease called endometriosis. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of females at child bearing age have this disease. This disease can affect a woman’s work life, ability to reproduce, and quality of life if pains are left untreated.
The name of endometriosis roots from the word “endometrium”, which is the tissue inside of the uterus. In a female without this disease, her tissue would lie inside her uterus, whereas in a woman with endometriosis, her tissue would be on the outside of her uterus. Usually during a menstrual cycle this tissue breaks down and bleeds out, but if the tissue is on the outside it has nowhere to leave the body. As a result, the tissue becomes irritated and that is when scar tissue and adhesions occur.
This is when infertility begins to occur due to too much scar tissue, pelvic tissue, and organs sticking together. Fortunately, if caught relatively early effective treatments can be available.
The best way to accurately diagnose endometriosis is by a laparoscopic surgery, in which the doctor will look for lesions by the uterus and see where the tissue is growing.
What are signs and symptoms of it?
Do not immediately diagnose yourself, but recognize if you have signs of endometriosis so that you can see your doctor or gynecologist.
Some signs of endometriosis include:
1. Pain in lower abdomen and back
As stated before, the tissue lying outside of the uterus causes cells to stick to each other. Back pain from endometriosis is caused by these cells sticking to your lower back which creates a deep pain within.
This type of pain can be identified as “static pain”, or pain that feels as if it goes through your back to your thighs, causing deep pain throughout your whole body. If you experience lower back pain right before and during your menstrual cycle, you may be at risk for endometriosis.
2. Constant bloating and constipation
There is a difference between light bloating from just starting your menstrual cycle, versus extremely painful and uncomfortable bloating that lasts for days. Many people refer to this very specific type of bloating as “endo belly”.
Symptoms of endo belly include painful bloating the week before your menstrual cycle, as well as throughout your menstrual cycle and even longer. These pains would want to make you hunch down and lay on the floors for sometimes hours on end. Another symptom of endo belly is a distended stomach that is hard when touched. This symptom can cause great discomfort and can contribute to a lower quality of life if left untreated.
4. Heavy bleeding Between Cycles
This is one of the more common signs of endometriosis. Bleeding between menstrual cycles is due to the tissue lining on the outside of the uterus, causing irregular cycles and shedding even when you're not on your period.
5. Trouble getting pregnant
This can be one of the more serious symptoms if endometriosis goes undiagnosed. The disease causes tissue to possibly sit inside the fallopian tube, causing a blockage when the egg drops to the uterus to be fertilized.
Endometriosis also causes inflammation in the body. One theory doctors hold is that the inflammation can cause damage to an egg or sperm, also resulting in infertility.
How can you ease symptoms
It may sound scary, but more women than you know live and cope with this disease every single day. Although there may be no scientifically proven cure for this disease, with all the medical advances in the world, there are many treatments for all the various aspects of endometriosis. However, if you feel like you have any of these signs that may lead you to believe you have endometriosis, it is important to seek a proper diagnosis from a doctor.
The most conventional ways to relieve symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Antihistamine medication
Histamines are hormones that work to help your body get rid of the toxins and allergens. However, when an overproduction occurs it can cause inflammation and allergy like symptoms in the body. Antihistamine medication can work for endometriosis because of the role that histamines play in “mass cell activation” during the development of endometriosis.
Antihistamine medication aids in decreasing inflammation to the body, as well as relieving pain and lightened flow.
- Hormone Suppression
Birth control has a lot more to it than just preventing pregnancy. According to University of Michigan health, hormone therapy works to cure pain resulting from endometriosis in 90 out of every 100 women.
Many gynecologists and doctors prescribe women with endometriosis a form of a birth control pill. Birth control pills contain hormones that work to regulate hormonal imbalances that the lesions and side effects of endometriosis create.
The regulation of the hormone imbalance and estrogen levels, works to ease cramps, pains, and lighten the menstrual flow. Common forms of birth control that gynecologists prescribe are the pill, ring, patch, or IUD.
- Progestin therapy
Progestin therapy is a different type of hormone therapy which focuses on progesterone levels. This type of therapy works to mimic the effects of progesterone, thus reducing pain and eliminating 90% of symptoms (National Library of Medicine).
- Laparoscopic surgery
Another common form of easing symptoms of endometriosis include this very small and non-invasive surgery. Laparoscopic surgery occurs when an extremely small incision is made near the target of the procedure and usually results in only two tiny incisions.
Laparoscopic surgery can help ease symptoms of endometriosis by removing scar tissue that may be causing the pain or even infertility. The surgeon can also remove any cysts that form on or around the ovaries that result from the disease.
Overall, it is important to recognize if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and do further research. Most importantly, you should contact your doctor or gynecologist if you feel like you may have endometriosis. They can properly diagnose and treat your symptoms.
Written by Kiana St. Onge