Endometriosis is a very uncomfortable condition during which endometrial-like tissue begins growing on the outside of your uterus. Since this is the same tissue responsible for breaking down and releasing blood during your menstrual period, it can cause pain and other issues, particularly during your period.
This condition can result in irritated tissue, cysts, scarring, or lesions. Endometriosis varies in severity and can range from displaying no symptoms whatsoever, to chronic pain and discomfort.
The best way to find out whether or not you have developed endometriosis is by consulting your OBGYN. They are typically able to diagnose the condition by checking for physical clues. Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, or a laparoscopy in order to find evidence of endometrial tissue/implants.
What Are The Symptoms Of Endometriosis?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. This pain can occur at a number of different times but most frequently occurs during a menstrual period. Although some discomfort and cramping is normal during a period, patients with endometriosis often describe their period pain as much worse than what is considered typical. These period pains may also be accompanied by excessive menstrual bleeding.
Aside from period pain, endometriosis is also often associated with pain during intercourse, bowel movements, or urination.
Causes of Endometriosis
There is no definitive answer as of yet regarding what causes endometriosis. Although it is a commonly occurring condition in women and is relatively diagnosable, doctors have yet to pinpoint exactly what triggers it.
Having said that, recent research has suggested that a family history of endometriosis and heavy periods (that last longer than 7 days), might be risk factors for developing the disease.
Some popular theories regarding what may cause endometriosis are:
- Retrograde menstruation – One of the most popular theories regarding the source of endometriosis, this hypothesis suggests that menstrual blood that flows back into the fallopian tubes disperses endometrial cells.
- Transformation of cells – Some doctors have suggested that cells outside of your uterus simply transform into endometrial cells and continue growing.
- Faults in the immune system – Yet another theory is that the condition is simply the effect of a fault in our immune system that doesn’t eliminate errant endometrial cells.
Can PCOS Cause Endometriosis?
Numerous studies have found close links between PCOS and endometriosis. This, however, does not mean that either one causes the other, only that they are often found in the same patient. Due to this, it may be a good idea for diagnosed PCOS patients to immediately mention any symptoms of endometriosis to their OBGYN.
What Are The Types Of Endometriosis?
Doctors use different stages and types to describe the severity and location of endometriosis. The exact categories and descriptions do vary a bit depending on the association, but they are generally similar.
Here are the 4 categories of endometriosis used to describe the location and organs being affected:
- Category 1 – Peritoneal Endometriosis. The mildest form of this condition, this is when Endometriosis affects the lining of the abdomen.
- Category 2 – Chocolate Cysts. Endometriosis cysts are already established in the ovaries; there is often a risk of the cysts breaking and spreading the disease further.
- Category 3 – Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis 1 (DIE I). This is a more severe form of endometriosis; when the tissue has infiltrated organs within the pelvic cavity (such as your ovaries, uterus, or rectum).
- Category 4 – Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis 2 (DIE II). The more severe form of DIE, this is when the endometriosis has invaded organs outside of the pelvic cavity and can affect your bowels, diaphragm, lungs, etc…
Another common way to classify endometriosis cases is by using the scale developed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Below are the stages as broken down by this methodology:
- Stage 1 – Minimal, just a few superficial implants.
- Stage 2 – Mild, with more implants than stage 1, and there may be some mild lesions.
- Stage 3 – Moderate, with many deep implants and small cysts on the ovaries.
- Stage 4 – Severe, with many deep implants and large cysts on the ovaries.
Is It Common For Endometriosis To Occur Inside The Bladder?
One of the most common questions in regards to endometriosis, is how often this condition affects the bladder area. The short answer is that bladder endometriosis is not very common. According to one study, only about 6% of all endometriosis cases are categorized as bladder endometriosis.
Is There A Way To Cure Endometriosis?
There are a variety of treatments that doctors use to combat endometriosis and the pain associated with the condition. Treatments range from at-home remedies for minor cases to surgery for more moderate to severe conditions.
Pain Medication. For pain and cramps associated with your menstrual cycle, your doctor may recommend some common over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen or Advil.
Hormone Therapy. A non-invasive and fairly straightforward option, hormone therapy has been found to be effective at reducing pain and slowing down growth of endometrial tissue. This treatment is a temporary fix however, and symptoms are likely to return after you stop taking the medication.
Surgery. A laparoscopic surgery is a common minimally-invasive procedure used to remove endometriosis implants and ease symptoms. More invasive surgeries such as abdominal surgeries and hysterectomies are also a possibility, although significantly less common.
What Are Some Natural Remedies For Endometriosis?
Your doctor is also likely to give you a number of daily at-home treatments to help ease pain (although these are likely to be used in combination with other treatments).
Try drawing a warm bath and using a heating pad to reduce pain and cramps. As mentioned earlier, properly taken over-the-counter medication can also be used to ease symptoms. Massages and other relaxing treatments can be used as well. If there are any at-home remedies for menstrual discomfort that usually work for you, those could be worth a try as well.
Keep in mind however that it’s best to get medical advice from a doctor and that you should never put your health at risk by avoiding medical treatment. At-home treatments are not a substitute for surgery or other medical procedures.
Does Endometriosis Cause Infertility?
According to John Hopkins Medicine, endometriosis is, in fact, considered one of the three major causes of infertility in women. It is still unclear exactly why endometriosis and infertility are so closely linked, but some doctors do think that it may be due to interference with the release of the egg or the change in pelvic environment.
What Is It Like Suffering From Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that is typically accompanied by chronic pain, and as such, can have an overwhelming impact on your life. Keep in mind, however, that there are a number of treatments that can help alleviate symptoms of this condition. Depending on the severity of your condition, over the counter medication or surgical intervention can help reduce the impact of this condition on your life. Furthermore, there are a number of great resources available to help with the emotional burden of chronic pain. Support groups have gotten more popular than ever and can often be found through Facebook or local organizations.
Cool Springs OBGYN
If you are experiencing abnormal pelvic pain or are otherwise worried that you may have endometriosis, please schedule an appointment with an OBGYN.
Cool Springs Obstetrics & Gynecology has been providing women’s healthcare services for over 20 years. We value our relationship with the local community and are proud to be a cornerstone of women’s healthcare in the Tennessee area. Cool Springs serves patients throughout Franklin, Brentwood, and the surrounding areas in Williamson County.
Our practice offers a variety of gynecological services- whether you’re looking for a routine exam, preventative care, or treatment for a condition. As far as treatment goes, here at Cool Springs OBGYN, we are able to offer both in-office and outpatient procedures, including minimally invasive surgeries. That means that we are your one-stop-shop for all your gynecological concerns. If you find out that your pelvic pain is, in fact, due to endometriosis, we can counsel you on the next steps and recommend a treatment option. In the event that you are concerned about the impact of endometriosis on your ability to have children, our office even offers fertility testing and treatments.
Not only that, but our office even offers hormone replacement therapy and aesthetic services such as body contouring.
Feel free to call or go online to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to seeing you in our office!