March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month. At RGU Cancer Center, we want every woman who might be affected by endometriosis to know what the symptoms are and what treatment plans are available.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that’s supposed to grow in the inside of your uterus grows on the outside instead. When you have your period, the tissue on the outside is shed, which builds up over time and can create scar tissue.
This scar tissue can connect the organs in your abdomen. For many women, this causes severe pain and heavy blood flow.
Endometriosis can cause cysts to form on your ovaries and uterus. Not only is endometriosis painful, but it also can cause fertility issues if the scar tissue grows into your fallopian tubes.
It’s possible to have endometriosis without experiencing any symptoms, but most women have them. Endometriosis can go undetected for many years because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Some women believe that they are simply experiencing bad menstrual pain when they are actually experiencing the classic symptoms of endometriosis.
Mild cramping and pain during your period are normal, but if the pain becomes severe it may be a sign of something more. Pain caused by endometriosis can also occur during ovulation and tends to get worse over time.
Talk to your doctor about endometriosis if you experience:
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Intense pain during your period
- Irregular menstrual cycle lengths
- Pain during sex
- Spotting between periods
- Pain while urinating or with bowel movements
In order to diagnose endometriosis, your health care provider will take note of your symptoms and may order blood tests, an ultrasound, or an MRI. These tests may be able to give your provider a good idea if you have endometriosis, but the only way to truly diagnose it is through direct visualization with laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery involves a tiny camera that is used to see the inside of your abdomen cavity. In some cases, the excess tissue can be removed during this surgery.
Thankfully, there are options for those suffering from endometriosis. Endometriosis doesn’t have a cure, but it can be treated to reduce symptoms. Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers can ease the symptoms for some women.
Because endometriosis is tied to your menstrual cycle, hormone therapy can help when pain relievers aren’t enough. Oral contraceptives and other birth control can help suppress or stop your menstrual cycle so that you get relief from symptoms.
Hormone therapy won’t make the endometriosis go away, but it can help you feel better. This is not the best choice for women who want to become pregnant in the future, since hormone treatments suppress ovulation.
Surgery is one option that may help regain fertility and reduce the painful symptoms of endometriosis. Surgery is most often done laparoscopically, where your doctor will make a small incision in the abdomen and remove or destroy as much tissue as possible.
Many who have this surgery find relief, but it isn’t considered a cure. The tissue can grow back over time, so you may need a follow-up surgery. A total hysterectomy can be an option for some women, but only after other treatment options have failed.
Speak up about endometriosis
Speak up about endometriosis
Endometriosis isn’t something that you have to endure without support. With the right treatment plan, you can experience relief from symptoms.
If endometriosis is affecting your life, you don’t have to face it alone. Don’t wait any longer to get help. Call RGU Cancer Center at 915-225-2060 today to schedule an appointment if you are seeking treatment and care for endometriosis.