Endometriosis: What am I dealing with?
This month is endometriosis awareness month. Did you know endometriosis affects at least 6.3 million women in the U.S. You are not alone. So what exactly is endometriosis? First of all, endometrium is tissue that normally grows inside of the uterus. Each month during a woman cycle the endometrium, your uterine lining, is shed. For women with endometriosis, they have endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. This tissue can be on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder and tissue lining the uterus. This endometrial tissue is influenced by hormonal changes therefore each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and then sheds. This can be a painful chronic disease. This process causes internal bleeding and inflammation resulting in pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, and bowel problems.
Interestingly, some women with unexplained infertile have undiagnosed endometriosis. So, how do we diagnosis it? A definite diagnosis cannot be given until a laparoscopy is done. A laparoscopy is a minor surgical procedure done under anesthesia that allows for the surgeon to see the location, size and extend of implants. This procedure can be expensive and invasive, but during the surgery the doctor may be able help reduce symptoms if endometriosis is found. However, depending on the symptoms of the individual women, surgery may not be required for treatment. Some of the common symptoms women have is chronic pelvic pain, pelvic pain before and during periods, fatigue, painful urination or bowel movements during periods, painful intercourse, and other gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.
So now you’re probably wondering what can be done about you endometriosis. Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are a variety of treatment options. The goals of treatment can include relieving/reducing pain symptoms, shrinking or slowing endometrial growths, preserving or restoring fertility, and preventing/delaying recurrence of the disease. Some of the common over the counter pain reliever medications used are Ibuprofen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aleve. There are also hormonal treatments that are aimed to stop the cycle of tissue stimulation breakdown and bleeding. The third treatment is a laparoscopic surgery where the surgeon removes or destroys the endometrial growths within the abdominal cavity. This can help relieve pain and may allow pregnancy to occur in some cases.
Dealing with the diagnosis of endometriosis can be overwhelming and difficult. But know you are not alone and your team at SpringCreek Fertility is working hard to help you get through this.