Your time of the month is one that is filled with cramps, mood swings and other discomfort. But for some women, the time of the month is a true struggle that finds them in extreme pain, due to a condition known as endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition when the lining which is inside your uterus, grows on the outside.
To make this simpler, let’s look at it this way. The shedding of your uterus every month, if you have endometriosis, could occur on both the inside and outside of your uterus. The blood shed on the outside however, has no outlet, and this is what causes a great deal of pain, irritating the tissue and sometimes scarring it.
The disease causes severe pain, especially during your period, and usually stops when you hit menopause. It affects women who are in their reproductive age, and can even cause infertility. Fortunately, you can look out for symptoms and look to your doctor for effective treatment methods.
Symptoms to look out for
It is rather easy to ignore the symptoms of endometriosis, thinking that you simply have a very painful cycle, but it is always better to pay attention to these symptoms and report them to a professional for quick diagnosis.
- Painful periods - This can start a few days before your menstrual cycle. Pelvic, abdominal and back pain are the main symptoms.
- Painful bowel movements or urination - These symptoms are especially present during your period.
- Excessive bleeding - Sometimes, you may experience heavy bleeding on your period or bleeding between your periods.
- Infertility - A large number of women seeking infertility treatments often find out that they have endometriosis
- Pain during intercourse is also common during endometriosis
Other symptoms include fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, fainting, constipation or bloating during your period.
Your doctor diagnoses or tests for endometriosis based on the symptoms you report.
The tests involved include
- Ultrasound scanning
- Laproscopy (a look into your abdomen using a surgical telescope-like device)
- Pelvic exams - your doctor will feel your pelvis for abnormalities like cysts or scars
Endometriosis and pregnancy
The scarring and tissue damage caused by endometriosis can make it harder to conceive. Around 30 to 50% of women with endometriosis have a difficulty getting pregnant, but even so, women with mild endometriosis can sometimes get pregnant and even carry the pregnancy to term. Always consult your doctor if you are trying to get pregnant with endometriosis. They recommend other reproductive options in some cases.
Treatment for endometriosis usually depends on how severe your endometriosis is. Some of them involve:
- Pain medications: As endometriosis brings a lot of pain and discomfort with it, doctors first try to help manage the pain with medications to counter pain and inflammation during your menstrual cycle. If this does not help, then other treatments are tried.
- Hormone treatments: This aims at slowing down the breakdown of endometrial tissue, reducing the bleeding and therefore the pain. This too is a very short lived treatment and the symptoms may return once the hormone therapy is stopped.
- Surgery: Conservative surgery is one such option, where the doctors try to remove the outside endometrium with surgery while keeping your ovaries and uterus safe. This can help if you are trying to get pregnant. Doctors could instead suggest in-vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technologies to couples who are trying to conceive.
Home remedies to help you cope
Despite treatment, it is also essential to practice some additional self-care so that the pain can be managed - both physically and psychologically. Though these only serve as an addition to treatment, they can go a long way to make you feel better. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Some of these remedies involve:
- Warm baths
- Heating pads
Meditation and breathing exercises are helpful for the days when you feel emotional distress.
Endometriosis is a disease that is increasingly prevalent today, and many girls and women suffer in silence because they are told that their pain is normal. Visit your doctor if you feel like something could be wrong. Don’t suffer in silence.