About 11% of American women struggle with endometriosis. This condition causes endometrial tissue to grow outside of your uterus, on organs like your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. Endometrial tissue is the lining of the uterus.
A woman’s body naturally sheds endometrial tissue every month during your period. When you have endometriosis, all uterine tissue is shed — not just what’s located in your uterus. The result can be pain, inflammation, swelling, and scarring. Endometriosis can make it hard for you to get pregnant.
One of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is painful periods. The team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, is ready to help you determine if your menstrual pain is associated with endometriosis or another condition.
With it being Endometriosis Awareness Month, let’s take a deeper look at the condition and its ramifications on your health.
Why does endometriosis cause painful periods?
During any regular menstrual cycle, your body sheds the lining of your uterus. Your body builds up this endometrium over the course of the month just in case a fertilized egg needs a place to implant. When you don’t get pregnant, the lining sheds and the process begins again.
For women with endometriosis, the lining grows outside of the uterus. It builds up and breaks down just like the lining inside your uterus, but your body isn’t designed to handle this extra tissue. It can cause small amounts of bleeding, inflammation, and swelling.
The pain is usually at its worst around the time of your period as your body tries to shed all endometrial tissue.
What other symptoms suggest endometriosis?
While painful periods are a common sign of endometriosis, they’re not the only symptom of the condition.
The tissue growth can block your fallopian tubes or grow into your ovaries. If blood gets trapped in the ovaries, it can cause painful cysts. The errant tissue may also form scar tissues and adhesions, causing pelvic pain.
Women with endometriosis also complain of:
- Chronic pain in the pelvis and lower back
- Deep pain during or right after sexual intercourse
- Intestinal pain
- Painful bowel movements
- Pain during urination at the time of your periods
- Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
- Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or bloating
All of these symptoms can be associated with other conditions, so it’s important to make an appointment to see us to get a definitive diagnosis.
Can I get help if I have endometriosis?
We offer help so you can manage your endometriosis symptoms, but there is no cure.
Your treatment depends on your stage in life and your family plans.
For women who aren’t trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control — like the pill or an intrauterine device (IUD) — offers a solution. Birth control can reduce bleeding and lessen pain. Each birth control type offers different benefits, so talk to us about which one is best for you.
For women who want to get pregnant soon, we might prescribe a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. This medication puts you into temporary menopause, which halts the growth of endometriosis. Once you halt the medication, your menstrual cycle returns and you may have a better chance of getting pregnant.
In severe cases, we may recommend surgery. This is especially true if you aren’t getting relief with other treatments and just can’t get pregnant. During minimally invasive surgery, we locate and remove areas of endometriosis.
What other conditions cause painful periods?
Painful menstrual cramps can be due to a number of other conditions. If you come to Capital Women’s Care, we do a thorough examination and evaluation to determine if endometriosis or one of the following is to blame:
Uterine fibroids are incredibly common. They’re noncancerous growths that develop in the wall of the uterus, causing pain and heavy periods.
This condition describes when the tissue that lines your uterus grows into the walls of the uterus.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Women who have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) are at risk of this chronic infection of the female reproductive organs.
If you suspect you have endometriosis or have been diagnosed with it, you need a care provider who works with you to help you find relief.
The OB/GYN team here at Capital Women’s Care is ready to help you feel your best and provide management for endometriosis or any other gynecological condition. Call or use this website to set up your visit today.