Painful cramps are not normal and should not be ignored. In fact, often these symptoms are likely a sign of endometriosis. Endometriosis is an often painful condition that occurs in the pelvic area of women. In fact, one in ten women are affected by it. The problem is many women don’t know about endometriosis or believe that severe abdominal pain is just part of menstruation. At ACCESS, we hope to increase awareness about endometriosis, so women can get diagnosed and treated.
Endometriosis generally affects women in their reproductive years. It occurs when tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, grows outside the uterus. This extra tissue affects the reproductive organs, such as the Fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus, as well as other parts of the pelvic area.
The main symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain during menstruation. However, some women have very little pain or no pain at all. Everyone’s experience is unique. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Excessive bleeding
Unfortunately, endometriosis often goes undiagnosed because women don’t seek treatment. Also, it can be hard to detect. “The only way to make the diagnosis of endometriosis is through a pelvic examination during laparoscopy or surgery,” says ACCESS Chief Medical Officer Jairo Mejia, M.D.Sometimes endometriosis is confused with other conditions having similar symptoms, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or ovarian cysts.
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis. Patients with the disease manage the symptoms either with surgery to remove the excess tissue, or medications. Medications include over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen. Hormone therapy has also shown to be effective in slowing tissue growth. “The treatment for endometriosis needs to be individualized and depends on the symptoms, the age of the patient and the desire to get pregnant, if that is the situation,” says Dr. Mejia.
When to see your doctor
“If you suspect you may have endometriosis, please consult with your gynecologist,” says Dr. Mejia. Schedule an appointment with your care provider today. ACCESS has locations near you and our team of health care professionals is ready to help you learn more.
National Institutes of Health
The Mayo Clinic
Endometriosis Foundation of America