Endometriosis: A Common Condition
One in ten women will develop endometriosis during their lifetime. Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus breaks through the muscular wall. Tissue is commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even the intestines. This growth does not belong outside of the uterus and can cause painful symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can cause a range of symptoms and can vary from person to person. A few of the most common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain or cramping
- Heavy, lengthy bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination or bowel pain
- Constant fatigue
- Bleeding or pain between periods
- Pain after a pelvic exam
- Loose or less bowel movements
These uncomfortable symptoms are often confused with other uterine disorders, such as adenomyosis, ovarian cancer, or uterine fibroids. This makes self-diagnosing nearly impossible. Like fibroids and adenomyosis, a routine pelvic exam or imaging tests, such as ultrasound technology or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), often verify a diagnosis. This condition can sometimes be difficult to detect unless it has formed a cyst that the doctor can feel during the exam.
Not sure if your symptoms are caused by uterine fibroids or endometriosis? Take our symptom quiz to find out.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Like uterine fibroids, the cause of endometriosis is unknown. One aspect that researchers agree on is that it is influenced by estrogen. There are several theories that may help explain how endometriosis develops such as:
- Genetic disposition
- Immune system dysfunction
- Endometrial fragments that travel through the blood vessels
Life with Endometriosis
Struggling with endometriosis can become a daily battle. Symptoms can cause you to skip work, cancel plans, and plan your daily life around being close to the restroom. It can cause women to feel isolated and alone, especially when society continues to treat uterine disorders as a “taboo” subject to discuss. Endometriosis can also affect your relationships by making it difficult or painful to have sex. Heavy, unpredictable bleeding can be difficult to plan around, making romantic spontaneity close to impossible.
Not only can endometriosis affect your social and personal life, but it can affect your future as well. It can cause infertility, which can add more stress on those who wish to have children. Some women go for years, not sure why they are unable to conceive, just to find out endometriosis prevented them from getting pregnant.
Unfortunately, there are few treatments that permanently work for endometriosis. One of the most common temporary fixes is to prescribe hormonal therapies like birth control, Gn-RH hormones, progestin therapy, or aromatase inhibitors. However, these hormonal therapies are temporary and will stop working when you cease treatment.
For debilitating cases, some doctors will recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove endometrial tissue through a small incision, or a hysterectomy. It’s important to review and research all possible treatment solutions before choosing the right course of action. Many doctors fail to give their patients ALL the information. It is crucial for women to take their health into their own hands and make sure they feel comfortable with their choice. Similar to fibroid treatment, many non-surgical alternatives are available. That’s why you should always research your options before making a choice.
Why Talk About Endometriosis
Due to the fact that endometriosis and uterine fibroids share similar symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed. Many people who have endometriosis or fibroids think their symptoms are just a part of normal menstruation and PMS, which causes women to wait years before seeking treatment. A recent study conducted by the Endometriosis Foundation of America stated that the average wait time for diagnosis was between eight to ten years.
Endometriosis awareness shouldn’t be limited to the month of March. Due to the fact that women’s health topics remain silenced, it’s important to break down stigmas associated with periods and menstrual cycles. When women can speak freely and openly (especially to their doctor, family, and friends) about normal – and abnormal – symptoms, women can seek treatment earlier.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we urge women to get checked so they can start feeling better, faster. Our experience interventional radiologists treat both uterine fibroids and adenomyosis through non-surgical, outpatient procedures. If you or a loved one exhibits symptoms of endometriosis, adenomyosis, or uterine fibroids, schedule an appointment to get checked.