Endometriosis Symptoms and Treatment Options
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when tissue, which is similar to the one that normally lines your uterus, grows in other areas of your body. This tissue acts just like normal endometrial tissue would, and it breaks down and bleeds during each menstrual cycle.
Unlike normal endometrial tissue, this tissue has no way to exit the body. The trapped endometrial flow then can irritate the surrounding area. This can cause moderate to severe inflammation and pain.
The most common places for this to occur are:
- Fallopian tubes
- Ligaments that support the uterus
- The space between the rectum and uterus (posterior cul-de-sac)
- The space between the bladder and uterus (anterior cul-de-sac)
- The outside of the uterus
- Pelvic cavity lining
If not managed properly, this can be extremely painful. It can also have lasting chronic impacts—including infertility. Planning ahead and making yourself aware of all your options is key. This will help manage the effects of endometriosis.
Connect with an endometriosis specialist today and explore the different endometriosis treatment options that may be right for you.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor and see if you may have endometriosis.
Some of the major symptoms include:
- Excessively painful menstrual cramps—including cramps that can be felt in the lower back and abdomen
- Pain during sex
- An abnormal menstrual flow
- Painful bowel movement and/or urination during menstrual periods
- Gastrointestinal problems (e.g. diarrhea, constipation, and/or nausea)
These are just a few symptoms but there are likely more. If you suspect any of your symptoms may be causes of concern, please visit your physician.
If you’re diagnosed with this condition, there are different options available to help manage pain and discomfort. Some options may even help treat the condition altogether.
Some of the most common endometriosis treatment options include:
- Hormone therapy: normally given via pill, injection, or nasal spray.
- Pain medications: range from over-the-counter to strong prescription painkillers, depending on the severity of symptoms.
- Surgical treatments: can provide significant relief, but often found to be temporary.
Hormones are ultimately what cause endometrial-like tissue to go through cycles that mimic our menstrual cycle. Since hormones drive this cycle, hormone therapy can be a very effective way to help treat endometriosis symptoms.
Hormone treatments come in the form of pills, injections, or nasal sprays. These treatments limit ovulation by preventing the ovaries from releasing hormones, particularly estrogen. This may assist to slow the endometrial lesions’ growth and local activity.
Hormone treatment also prevents the formation of new regions and scars (adhesions). However, it does not remove existing adhesions.
Some common hormone treatments specialists may recommend, include:
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medicines: puts the body into a “menopausal” state.
- Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills: manage menstrual pain, by making a woman’s period lighter and more regular.
- Progesterone and progestin: reduces a woman’s period or stops it completely (via IUD, injection, or pill).
- Danazol (also called Danocrine®): stops the release of hormones that are part of your menstrual cycle.
If the pain or other symptoms are minor, pain medicines may be effective in treating endometriosis symptoms. Options range from over-the-counter pain remedies, all the way to severe prescription painkillers. The strength of medications depends on the severity of symptoms.
NSAIDS are the most prevalent types of pain relievers used in treating this type of pain.
Research is being conducted to conclude how effective pain medication is in relieving endometriosis related pain. Once doctors understand which drugs are best at relieving pain, this may help shed light on the root cause of the pain.
According to research, some surgical therapies for endometriosis-related pain can provide significant—but likely temporary—relief. Therefore, healthcare practitioners may recommend surgery to address severe pain.
The surgeon can discover any regions of endometriosis during the procedure and analyze the size and degree of growth. During this time, your surgeon may also remove the endometriosis patches.
Since certain treatments cannot be reversed, and others can damage a woman’s fertility, it’s crucial to explore all options. Before making a final treatment decision, women should fully understand what’s being performed.
As a result, before making a final treatment decision, women should explore all of their options with their healthcare providers.
Endometriosis Related Complications
When not properly managed, endometriosis can be very painful, and also cause long term complications.
According to Healthline, fertility problems are a common side effect of endometriosis. Milder versions of the disease may be able to conceive and carry a child to term.
After having endometrial tissue surgically removed, some women have been able to conceive. If this does not work for you, fertility treatments or in vitro fertilization may be the best option to boost your chances of having a baby.
If you’re planning to start a family, talk to your doctor about your options. This includes discussing if you should consider having children sooner rather than later.
Alternatively, your doctor can help you learn more about the various options for becoming a parent or postponing pregnancy.
When you have endometriosis, your symptoms may develop over time, making it harder to conceive naturally. Before and during your pregnancy, your doctor will need to do routine examinations.
Even if you don’t have fertility issues, managing chronic discomfort can be difficult. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health difficulties are common in persons with endometriosis. Therefore, checking in with yourself and prioritizing your mental health are also key.
Endometriosis Specialist Near Me
If you think you may be suffering from endometriosis, find a physician who can help. Connect2Heal is focused on connecting you to the healthcare provider that’s right for you.
The Connect2Heal community is focused on making it simpler for individuals to find a healthcare provider. We particularly help bridge the gap between patients and physicians of color. Checkout Connect2Heal today and find the endometriosis specialist that is right for you.