March isn’t just the month to go green and look for that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it’s also Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis affects a whopping 176 million women globally, which equates to one in ten women during their reproductive years.
What Is Endometriosis?
WebMD defines Endometriosis as “the condition that occurs when the tissue that should line the inside of your uterus,the Endometrium grows outside of it instead.”
Yikes, tissue growing on the outside of your uterus?! It sounds a little scary, and you might be wondering what happens to the extra tissue. When you menstruate this build-up of tissue breaks apart and usually passes out of the body in the form of menstrual blood.
Endometriosis can cause chronic inflammation on the ovaries, as well as places you wouldn’t think, like the pelvic region, and rectum, as well as the bowels and bladder. In rare cases, endometriosis can cause lung and diaphragm inflammation. Scar tissue can form and can also cause infertility.
Endometriosis Symptoms & Why It’s Often Dismissed
Usually, endometriosis symptoms tend to be dismissed. This is due to the fact that endometriosis symptoms are very similar to period symptoms. Some women with endometriosis don’t report experiencing anything out of the ordinary, while others experience severe painful cramps. Regardless, many women will grit and bare the pain before finally getting a diagnosis. In fact, it can take years to be correctly diagnosed, according to research:
“In the United States, on average, it takes ten to twelve years between the time the symptoms begin — which, for 60% of patients, is before age twenty — and getting a diagnosis. According to the Endometriosis Association research registry, 61% of endometriosis patients had been told by health care providers that nothing was wrong with them.”
Below are typical symptoms of endometriosis. If you notice that you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then it’s essential to make an appointment to see your gynecologist. Some medical experts speculate that endometriosis might be hereditary. So, if your sister or mom have it, then you might too. Other medical professionals, however, are not sure what causes endometriosis, except that women who have an immune system disorder tend to be more prone to it.
Endometriosis Signs & Symptoms:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Back pain before and during menstruation
- Painful urination and bowel movements
- Pain during sex
The Way Endometriosis Is Diagnosed
In order to get an official diagnosis, you’ll need to have a surgical procedure done called a laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is when the doctor makes a small incision in the abdomen and enters the body using a laparoscope to check for endometrial lesions and scarring.
This is partly why many women don’t get diagnosed right away. Some women may not want to have the surgery done or might not have the resources available. Many women might consider what they’re experiencing is what every woman experiences during her period. This is a common misconception, that having terribly painful menstrual cramps is “normal,” but it isn’t. Don’t take your period cramps lightly. If you have above normal cramps plus heavy menstrual flow, consult with your doctor.
Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask your medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.