Did you know nearly one in every 10 women have endometriosis? This disease can cause a plethora of symptoms and uncomfortable pain, at times for some, it can be debilitating. It can also cause issues for those trying to start a family as well. Because endometriosis can be so common, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms. You should be sure to address any concerns with your doctor and local Denver women’s health expert.
What is endometriosis?
occurs when the lining that normally surrounds the surfaces around the uterus grows on other organs within the body. While commonly found in the lower abdomen (fallopian tubes, ovaries area around the uterus), this lining can grow in other areas, which becomes problematic. Some of these areas include the cervix, bowel, bladder or lungs. Currently, doctors are not sure what causes this disease. Researches have investigated that it could be due to genetics, hormones, irregular menstruation blood flow, immune system failures or after a surgery. It is possible that the endometrial cells are transferred outside of the uterus hence causing the disease.
The thought about blood flow from researchers is that endometriosis could be due to retrograde menstruation, which is when blood flow goes in the opposite direction. They believe when the cells travel to the other areas in the body, it can cause the uterine lining to grow.
An actual diagnosis can be confirmed after a pelvic exam or surgery, but many doctors can make an estimation based on symptoms, genetic history, etc. Types of examinations and surgeries that can confirm it include an MRI, ultrasound, CAT scan or laparoscopy. This will allow a doctor to see any inflammation and symptoms to confirm.
Common signs and symptoms
There are several different signs and symptoms associated with endometriosis. A few of the most common include:
- Pain: Pain due to endometriosis can occur in several ways. For some, cramps during menstruation can be extremely painful. This happens because due to cells in the other areas where the lining is growing. The area can undergo inflammation as well, creating a painful situation.
- Periods: When a woman with endometriosis has a period, in many cases, blood flow will be much heavier. One may also experience pain in the lower abdomen area or nausea.
- Urinary problems: Those with endometriosis may have to use the restroom more frequently.
- Intercourse: Other women have difficulty during intercourse due to pain. It can feel like a sharp stab that not only hurts during intercourse but can continue to hurt for a few days preceding it.
- Infertility: Many women who have endometriosis experience infertility issues. It may take much longer to conceive, or the possibility that conception is not possible at all.
- Genetics: If endometriosis runs in someone’s family, it can increase a woman’s chances of developing it.
- Emotional distress: Due to the painful symptoms and difficulty to conceive, endometriosis causes several women stress and anxiety. It is important for women to talk to their doctor and seek therapy to overcome issues.
- Fatigue: A woman that suffers from endometriosis can feel tiredness and fatigue throughout the day, even if you get enough sleep.
There are many myths and misconceptions that surround endometriosis. First is the age of when a woman can begin experiencing symptoms. Endometriosis is assumed to always appear in women that are in their early 20s to mid-30s. In reality, young girls can begin showing symptoms as young as seven-years-old.
Many also believe an endometriosis diagnosis equals infertility. While it can be more difficult to conceive, infertility is not always the case. Many women with endometriosis can get pregnant and think pregnancy is a cure. Unfortunately, this is not true. Symptoms may decrease during pregnancy but can return after a baby is born.
Last are myths that hormones can be a cure. Many believe various types of synthetic hormones, such as birth control pills, can treat the disease. While they may alleviate certain symptoms, they will not cure endometriosis.
Endometriosis and pregnancy
As noted, a high percentage of women with endometriosis can get pregnant. It often takes much longer to conceive but it is not impossible. It is harder to conceive due to a variety of reasons:
- Egg travel: When there is inflammation or damage to the reproductive organs, it can be difficult for an egg to implant to the uterine wall. In some cases, symptoms of endometriosis can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg at all.
- Fallopian tubes: Endometriosis can cause a woman’s fallopian tubes to work improperly, hence negatively impacting a woman’s chances to get pregnant.
- Damage: A woman’s egg or a man’s sperm can be damaged due to endometriosis.
Treatments and relief
Even though there is not a cure for endometriosis, treatments to provide relief are available. Pain medications are the top ways a woman can find relief from symptoms. Anti-inflammatories are the top medication to reduce swelling in the area. In extreme cases, women may opt for surgery which can remove the additional growth. Not only will this reduce pain levels but can also increase chances to conceive. Hormones are another way symptoms can be relieved. Hormones can make the additional layers thicker that then break down. This type of therapy can be done through birth control pills, hormone shots and more.
Physical therapy can also help treat endometriosis. Through pelvic floor exercises, a physical therapist can help calm the muscles in the area which will reduce pain and inflammation. When the pelvic floor is strengthened, the pain in the lower abdominal area, during sex and more can be alleviated.
Through our men and women’s health services
, Peak Physical Therapy & Wellness can help women suffering from endometriosis. Using a variety of pelvic floor exercises and more, a woman can seek relief through a variety of services. In addition, these exercises can help alleviate pelvic and lower back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, overactive bladder and much more. There is no reason to suffer from rehabilitating symptoms due to your endometriosis—schedule your consultation with a team member today.