If you experience painful periods, or cramping for a week or two before and during your period, you might have endometriosis. Endometriosis is the condition where cells that make up the lining of your uterus grow outside the womb in other areas of your body such as the pelvic area and bowels. Some women may have no symptoms that accompany their endometriosis. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pain in the lower belly before and during your period
- Pain during or following sexual intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pelvic or low back pain that may occur at any time
No one knows what causes endometriosis, but you are more at risk to develop it if your have a mother of sister with endometriosis, started your period at a young age, have frequent periods or they last 7 or more days, never had children, or have a closed hymen.
Endometriosis is common and probably starts when a women begins menstruation. Although, diagnosis usually does not occur until later in life around the ages of 25-35. What makes endometriosis a problem is that this excess tissue responds to the hormones from your ovaries. This tissue can grow, bleed, and eventually cause pain and/or internal scaring, as well as, lead to problems getting pregnant.
Treatment for endometriosis depends on your age and the severity of your symptoms and disease. Whether you want to have children in the future is also an important factor to consider before a treatment option is chosen. Some treatments for endometriosis include:
- Pain relievers – ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
- Hormone therapy – birth control pills, progesterone pills or injections, and gonadotropin-agonist medications
- Surgery – laparoscopy, laparotomy, or hysterectomy
Your health care provider can help you decide which treatment method is right for you. Although endometriosis cannot be cured, with the right treatments the symptoms can be relieved for years.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, what treatments were effective for you?