March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

 

leaving hospitalEndometriosis is a common disorder, affecting over 176 million women worldwide. It is a condition in which the tissue which normally lines the uterus, also called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. This tissue commonly grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissue lining the pelvis, and sometimes abdominal organs.Endometriosis is a common disorder, affecting over 176 million women worldwide. It is a condition in which the tissue which normally lines the uterus, also called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. This tissue commonly grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissue lining the pelvis, and sometimes abdominal organs.

Endometriosis can cause a great deal of discomfort and many women with this condition are undiagnosed. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Pain right before and during menstrual periods
  • Cramping, pain with bowel movements or urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Spotting or bleeding in between periodsInfertility
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and nausea

 

Symptoms are usually more severe during menstrual periods.  Symptoms of this condition are often confused with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or ovarian cysts. It is important to report any symptoms to your doctor, as an early diagnosis can provide better treatment. 

Certain factors place woman at an increased risk of developing endometriosis. These include menstruation starting at an early age, never giving birth, menopause at an older age, menstrual cycles less than 27 days, higher levels of estrogen, low body mass index (BMI), family history of endometriosis, alcohol consumption, uterine abnormalities, and any condition affecting the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body. Endometriosis can lead to impaired fertility and a higher incidence of ovarian cancer. After discussing potential symptoms of endometriosis with your doctor, a number of tests may be ordered to diagnose this, including a pelvic exam, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sometimes a laparoscopy. 

There is no cure for endometriosis; treatment often involves medications such as hormonal birth control pills and pain medication. Sometimes surgery may be recommended if symptoms are severe. Regular exercise, heating pads, and over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen) may help reduce pain associated with this condition. It is important to discuss treatment with your health care provider. For more information please go to: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656


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