If you are a woman who has struggled with long and heavy periods, pain with sex, or infertility, there’s a chance that the cause is endometriosis. At Women’s Health Specialists, we frequently see women in our office who have been struggling for years with what they assume are normal period symptoms. It is only after they are diagnosed that they understand why they have been struggling with pain for years and that in many cases, there are solutions that can help them feel better.
If you think that you might have endometriosis, or have recently been diagnosed, keep reading to learn more about what the condition is and how it is treated. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office in Germantown to schedule your own appointment. Talking to a gynecologist about your symptoms is the best way to monitor your overall health, and lead you to the diagnosis and treatment that works for you!
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where cells and tissues that typically line the inside of the uterus begin growing outside of the uterus. These cells are called the endometrium and are meant to be a part of the uterus that sheds each month during your period. However, when it grows outside of the uterus, it is unable to shed, and instead is trapped in the area surrounding your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even your intestines.
The tissues surrounding the trapped endometrium can become irritated and inflamed, causing lesions, scar tissue, or even cysts on the ovaries. This often results in severe pain, especially during periods, during sex, when passing bowel movements, and just generally. Fertility problems can develop due to cysts and lesions. Heavy, long periods are common for women with endometriosis as well.
As of now, there is no confirmed cause for endometriosis, but there are a few things that doctors suspect could be the cause, including a phenomenon called retrograde menstruation. This is when menstruation blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity. Endometrial cells fuse with cells in the pelvic cavity and along the outside of the uterus and ovaries, growing and causing the pain described above.
Other potential causes are from the transformation of peritoneal cells into endometrial cells, or an excess of estrogen at a young age that could transform embryonic cells into endometrial cells. Other possible causes might be from surgical scar implantation or even immune system disorders. Researchers are continuing to uncover reasons why endometriosis might occur, but just know that it isn’t your fault! The best thing you can do if you have endometriosis is to get it diagnosed and start treating it.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it’s worth making an appointment with your gynecologist to see if you have endometriosis. Though rarely life-threatening, it is a condition that can cause needless pain and infertility, so it’s important to have it diagnosed and get treated. At Women’s Health Specialists, our team of board-certified gynecologists and experts can help you get a diagnosis.
A few methods that doctors typically use to diagnose endometriosis include pelvis exams to palpitate areas within your pelvic cavity to locate endometrial tissue or lesions, and ultrasounds and MRIs to externally see what is happening inside. In some cases, doctors might recommend a more surgical method like a laparoscopy where a small instrument is inserted and allows the doctor to view inside your pelvis, and possibly take a biopsy of the tissue to test for endometrial cells.
Getting an endometriosis diagnosis is certainly daunting, but it can also be extremely helpful for you to get the right treatment and manage pain and infertility. Talk to your doctor about these treatment options:
Hormonal and Pain Medication
There are medications that can sometimes help manage endometriosis symptoms and causes. Hormonal therapies have been proven to help some patients, and others need pharmaceutical intervention for pain. Discuss these options with your doctor to see which medications they might recommend for you, or if other treatment options are preferred.
There are a couple of common surgical options for endometriosis. Electrosurgery uses electric currents to cut tissues and control bleeding. Laparoscopic surgery uses a small video camera and thin tubes to identify the areas needing to be cut and removed. Surgery is one of the more invasive options, so your doctor will likely wait to recommend this after attempting other treatment options.
There are several medical procedures that are sometimes recommended for endometriosis depending on the severity and location of the endometrial tissue growth. This includes cauterization, which is the burning or freezing of tissues to remove them, ablation which removes tissues through lasers or radiofrequency, electrocoagulation which employs an electric current to seal blood vessels and stop bleeding, and endometrial ablation which is the surgical removal of the lining of the uterus to reduce heavy menstrual flow.
Again, these interventions will only be recommended by a doctor based on your unique physiological needs.
Get the Care You Need at Women’s Health Specialists
Don’t continue to suffer from long, heavy, painful periods! There are doctors and treatments available at Women’s Health Specialists in Germantown! Set up an appointment with one of our doctors who are ready to help you get the treatment you need to live a more pain-free and stress-free life! We hope to see you in our office sometime soon!