Is it *just* bad period cramps, or could it be something more? That awful period pain could be the cause of endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis (also referred to as “endo”) is a chronic condition in which tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. In most cases, this growth takes place on and around organs in the pelvis or abdomen.
The out-of-place tissue growth can cause a LOT of pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, it can also make it more difficult to get pregnant.
Who is at Risk of Having Endometriosis?
While medical professionals have a hard time predicting who will and who won’t develop endometriosis, there are some risk factors that have been identified for this condition for menstruators who have:
- Never had children
- Periods that last longer than 7 days
- Menstrual cycles that are shorter than 28 days
- A family member with endometriosis
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological diseases, and yet, there is still so much we don’t know about the condition, leading to it being often misdiagnosed.
Many people with endometriosis are treated based solely on their symptoms and without an official diagnosis. In other cases, a formal diagnosis is conducted via laparoscopy, a surgical procedure wherein doctors make a tiny incision in the abdomen and place a camera to peek inside the pelvic cavity.
In addition to a laparoscopy, a healthcare provider may perform a pelvic exam or a pelvic ultrasound (sonogram) if they believe that the patient may have endometriosis.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Depending on the location of the lesions, people living with endometriosis may have a combination of symptoms or none at all. This is another factor that makes endometriosis difficult to diagnose and recognize.
Some of the most common symptoms may include:
- Severe period pain (dysmenorrhea)
- Chronic pelvic or abdominal pain
- Painful sex (dyspareunia)
- Heavy bleeding on your period
- Painful urination and/or bowel movements
Endometriosis Treatment Options
There aren’t currently any cures for endometriosis. However, there are various treatment options that can help with severe symptoms. These treatment options include:
- Hormone therapy
- Pain medications
If you think you have endometriosis or have questions about your condition, be sure to check in with your OB/GYN for more information about your options.