Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological diseases in women. In fact, it is estimated that more than five and a half million women in the United States suffer from it. Due to the prevalence of the condition and the implications it has on a woman’s health, here are three of the most common signs and symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition when the endometrial lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, usually on the surface of other organs in the abdominal region. Though endometriosis can occur in teens, or any woman who has menstrual periods, is most commonly diagnosed in women while in their 30’s and 40’s. During a normal menstrual cycle, hormones cause the lining of the uterus to build up with tissue and blood vessels and when a woman doesn’t get pregnant, that lining sheds, exiting the body during a menstrual period. When this tissue is growing and building up in areas outside of the uterus, it can begin to build up as scar tissue on abdominal organs, causing pain and other problems for women.
1. Painful Menstrual Cramps
One common symptom of endometriosis is when a woman suffers painful cramps during her menstrual period. These cramps typically get worse over time and can become so intense, they become debilitative in many women. The pain and cramping may begin before and extend for several days into your menstrual period. Women with endometriosis may also experience excessive bleeding in between menstrual cycles and heavy bleeding during their periods.
Another symptom of endometriosis can be when a woman is experiencing infertility. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis. Although we don’t know exactly why endometriosis may result in infertility, in some cases, inflammation can decrease the ability of the sperm and egg to move through the fallopian tubes and within the uterus. In more severe cases, endometrial tissue or scar tissue may completely block a woman’s fallopian tubes, thus preventing sperm from reaching the egg and fertilization from occurring.
3. Chronic Pelvic Pain
Perhaps one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is pain in the lower back, abdomen, and in the pelvic region. It is important to note, however, that the amount of pain a woman experiences does not directly correlate to the severity of her endometriosis. Many women experience little pain when their endometriosis is extensive, while others experience severe pain even though they only have small areas of endometriosis.
Endometriosis has been and is still widely studied, but it is indiscriminate in who it will affect. Since doctors know that estrogen plays a large role in the thickening of the uterine lining during a woman’s menstrual cycle, she can attempt to lower the levels of estrogen in her body by exercising regularly, trying to maintain low amounts of body fat, and avoiding consumption of large amounts of caffeine and alcohol in her diet.
Though endometriosis has no known cure, there are many treatment options available for women suffering from it. If you experience any of the signs or symptoms above, please contact our office to schedule an appointment today.
- Dr. Shelly Messer