When you feel pain, your body is sending a signal – usually indicating something is not right.
When women feel pain in their pelvic area, they should heed the warning and see a doctor. One of the most common causes, Endometriosis, needs attention.
Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. The excess tissue can become involved in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvis. Sometimes, it can spread further.
An estimated 10 percent of women will suffer this disorder during their reproductive years. More than 176 million women worldwide are thought to have it, although sometimes the condition goes undiagnosed.
The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, but a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain that doesn’t correlate to her cycle – this is what makes this disease/condition so unpredictable and frustrating.
Here are six signs you might have endometriosis:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and extend several days into your period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse. Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination. You're most likely to experience these symptoms during your period.
- Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who are seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other symptoms. You may also experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
Ignoring the signs can lead to more significant health issues later, including:
- The pain becomes so severe and debilitating that it impacts your life.
- You can develop scar tissue and adhesions that distort your internal anatomy.
- In advanced stages, internal organs may fuse together, causing a condition known as a “frozen pelvis.”
- An estimated 30 to 40 percent of women with endometriosis may not be able to have children.
- Ovarian cancer does occur at higher than expected rates in women with endometriosis.
Your doctor may recommend either using medication or having surgery. Here are some options:
- For mild cases, you can take an over-the-counter medicine such as Advil or Motrin to lessen the pain.
- Supplemental hormone therapy can sometimes reduce the pain. The therapy also can slow or prevent further growth of the tissue.
- Some women find relief with acupuncture.
- If you are trying to become pregnant, conservative surgery can help remove tissue without damaging the ovaries and uterus.
- In severe cases, a hysterectomy might be the only option to relieve the pain. If you undergo this procedure, you will not be able to have children.
The physicians in the Women’s Health Specialists at Johnson Memorial Hospital are here to answer your questions and provide you with information and treatment of endometriosis. You can reach them at the Franklin office, 317.738.0630, or at the Whiteland office, 317.530.3111.