Endometriosis is a gynecological condition affecting millions of American women of child-bearing years. An extreme overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), this painful and persistent malady leaves some women infertile, in pain and even debilitated from the symptoms. Are you one of them? A visit with your OB/GYN doctor will uncover the reasons and treatments for your endometriosis.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The most frequent symptom is severe cramping before, during and after menstruation. Periods may be unusually long in duration or very short. Lower back pain and migraine headaches occur through out the monthly cycle, and many women report difficulty with bowel movements and a feeling of "heaviness"in the lower abdomen.
Some sufferers of endometriosis experience weight gain and unfortunately...infertility. Endometriosis can block the fallopian tubes and interior of the uterus so sperm cannot reach and fertilize eggs. Endometrial tissue often appears in odd areas such as on the ovaries or the bowel.
Who gets endometriosis?
The Office on Women's Health reports that a full 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 suffer with endometriosis. The condition appears to run in families, and it is common among women who have never had children. Autoimmune conditions such as allergies, MS and Lupus often co-exist with endometriosis.
Finding and treating endometriosis
Reporting your symptoms of endometriosis to your obstetrician/gynecologist is critical to diagnosis and treatment. He or she will perform a pelvic examination and may do ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging.
Treatment options vary, but frankly, surgery usually is not a first choice. Medical management with hormones and pain medications is preferable. Your OB/GYN will want to monitor your symptoms and treatment plan closely to help you manage this often-frustrating condition.
In addition, many women experience significant symptom relief if they:
- Exercise regularly.
- Deep breathe through periods of abdominal or lower back pain.
- Manage stress levels and the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits, and reduce gluten and refined sugars which produce inflammatory reactions in the abdomen.