Women should be aware of the symptoms, potential causes, risk factors and treatments for endometriosis. It is important to recognize endometriosis symptoms and to be aware of all available treatment options.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, known as the endometrium, develops outside the uterus. The condition usually affects the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and tissue lining the pelvis. Tissue in surrounding areas may become irritated and eventually develop adhesions and scar tissue.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Pelvic pain, often occurring before and/or during the menstrual period is the most common symptom of endometriosis. Many women with endometriosis experience cramping during their periods, describing their menstrual pain as much worse than usual, and increasing in intensity over the months after the onset of symptoms. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Cramping and pelvic pain before and/or during your period
- Abdominal and/or lower back pain
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Pain with urination and/or bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding during periods
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, bloating (especially during periods)
Endometriosis Risk Factors
Endometriosis typically develops to the point of becoming noticeable several years or more after the first menstrual period. Endometriosis may temporarily discontinue developing during pregnancy, and it can permanently end with menopause (unless you are having estrogen treatment during menopause).
Women with one or more of the following risk factors may be at greater risk for developing endometriosis.
- Menstruating at an early age
- Menopause at older age
- Low body mass index
- Never giving childbirth
- Short menstrual cycles (under 27 days)
- Uterine abnormalities
- Higher levels of estrogen in the body
- Drinking alcohol
- Family history of endometriosis
- A medical condition preventing menstrual flow from leaving the body
When to See Your Doctor
Endometriosis can cause pain and fertility problems. If you experience symptoms, it is important to obtain a diagnosis as soon as possible, for potentially greater success in managing your symptoms. Your doctor may conduct one or more tests to help in diagnosing endometriosis, including a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or laparoscopic test/treatment.
Treatment for Endometriosis
Endometriosis treatment usually involves medications or surgery. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best solution for you, based on the severity of your symptoms and on whether or not you want to become pregnant. Treatment may involve:
- Pain medications
- Various hormone therapies
- Danazol to suppress the growth of the endometrium
- Conservative surgery to remove some endometriosis while preserving the uterus and ovaries (especially for women who want to conceive)
- Hysterectomy for severe endometriosis
The Woman’s Clinic, Little Rock, AR
The Woman’s Clinic board certified physicians provide the highest quality of women’s medical care in Little Rock Arkansas. For more information about endometriosis or to make an appointment to see a Little Rock gynecologist, contact the Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 today.